From 4 to 5 May 2011 the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh welcomed Professor Ian Frazer, the creator of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer and 2006 Australian of the Year, to Cambodia.
During his visit, his first to Cambodia, Professor Frazer met with the President of the Cambodian Red Cross, Kittiprittbandit Dr Bun Rany Hun Sen.
Professor Frazer and Dr Bun Rany Hun Sen discussed the development of the HPV vaccine and the challenges of tackling cancer in Cambodia. The Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Her Excellency Penny Richards, explained to Dr Bun Rany Hun Sen Australia’s contribution to the health sector in Cambodia through the aid program and scholarships for Cambodian students to undertake study in Australia, including in medicine and science.
As part of Professor Frazer’s visit, the Embassy presented a screening of the Australian documentary Catching Cancer to a group of around 40 medical professionals and representatives of the government and NGOs. The documentary explored possible links between viruses and certain cancers. After the screening Professor Frazer spoke about the discovery of the HPV vaccine and his experience in administering it in developing countries, like Vanuatu. He took a number of questions from members of the audience who were keen to understand more about his work.
In her introductory remarks prior to the screening of Catching Cancer, Ambassador Richards said that “the development of the human papilloma virus vaccine is just one example of Australia’s impressive record of scientific innovation and achievement. Australian research strengths are particularly apparent in fields such as space science, environmental sciences, clinical medicine, biology, and immunology”.
Many Cambodian students have been able to take advantage of Australia’s expertise in research and innovation by studying at Australian universities. A number of Cambodians have received Australian Award scholarships to undertake post-graduate study in Australia in the fields of science, medicine or medical research. In the Cambodian Ministry of Health alone, there are around 40 graduates of Australian institutions.