News From Cambodia N° 0659-EF
The Cambodia Daily
Phnom Penh, Friday, December 8, 2006
Opinion / Letter to the Editor
Cambodia’s Children Need More Than Clinton’s HIV/AIDS Outreach
While Bill Clinton was a much better than current US President George W. Bush, his visit to Cambodia still merits thoughtful review, (“Clinton Offers Drugs for 3,000 Kids With HIV,”Tuesday, page 1).
The Clinton Foundation provided drugs for children infected with HIV and equipment for blood testing. This is laudable and his foundation intends to offer much more than anti-retroviral treatment. These children deserve everything possible to help ensure they can have a normal, healthy and fulfilling life.
But Clinton, as always, continues to play to the camera and not the issues. Yes, this is politics, but in Cambodia there is an additional twist. Recent statistics show that 33,400 children under five die per year. This is equivalent to one town the size of Prey Veng being wiped off the map every year.
Cambodian children are dying from malnutrition, neonatal causes and common childhood illnesses. Over half of these children die of illnesses that are treatable or preventable with cheap and easily available interventions.
The 37 percent of the children who survive are chronically malnourished, condemning them to a life where they will never reach their educational or economic potential. Where is the support for these chi1dren?
Cambodia is not ravaged with AIDS like southern Africa. Multitudes of children are not dying from AIDS. While Phnom Penh receives new blood testing equipment for HIV testing, hospitals and health centers in the countryside cannot do lab gram stain tests for bacterial infection and prescribe unnecessary IV fluids for general illness. Where is the support for these health providers?
Cambodia is a success story in confronting HIV / AIDS and all these involved deserve great praise and respect. But attentions need to focus on the causes of child mortality and malnutrition, if we are interested in improving conditions for Cambodia's children.
Published by Khemara Jati
December 8th, 2006