|© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Meas Bunly|
Around 200 students and health workers parade across Kampong Speu province to inform families about the signs of child pneumonia and newborn diseases.
Kampong Speu, Cambodia, 30 June 2015 – Earlier this month at Kampong Speu Provincial Health Department, the Ministry of Health celebrated the official launch of the campaign to promote care-seeking behaviour for children’s pneumonia and newborn illnesses, with support from UNICEF, KOICA and other development partners.
The campaign aims to promote child survival and health by encouraging mothers and caretakers to immediately bring their children with danger signs of pneumonia, and newborn babies with danger signs of illnesses, to the nearest public health facility to receive life-saving treatment.
In the last few years, Cambodia has made significant progress in reducing preventable child deaths. The under-five mortality rate has declined from 45 per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 35 in 2014. Newborn mortality has dropped from 27 per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 18 in 2014.
“Despite progress, there are still too many children who die too young, needlessly. These children die of preventable and treatable diseases, such as pneumonia, which account for a significant portion of child mortality. It is estimated that a large proportion of these deaths take place during the first month of the baby’s life,” said Ms. Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative.
His Excellency Eng Huot, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health, stressed, “The lack of appropriate care for children with pneumonia and for sick newborns is a severe public health issue in Cambodia and also one of the main causes of child mortality in the country.”
To echo the campaign objective, Ms. Flowers added, “Caregivers’ delay in seeking the appropriate treatment when a child displays any danger signs can be a crucial determinant in whether the child survives or dies from the disease”.
Timely care seeking for serious child illnesses is key for child survival, however it is not an easy task. “Emphasis should not only be put on awareness about the danger signs of sick children, such as children with pneumonia, but also, and more importantly, on behavioural change,” said Professor Tung Rathavy, Director of the National Maternal and Child Health Centre.
The Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Health Promotion is the lead agency behind this campaign. At the launch, The Centre’s Deputy Director, Dr. Lak Leng, commented, “When they grow up, healthy children have the opportunity to become valuable citizens and to build a brighter future for the country.”
Parallel to the launch, hundreds of health workers and students marched enthusiastically across the provincial town holding banners, posters and leaflets with the campaign’s key messages. The sound of radio spots from loudspeakers added a vibrant flavour to the parade.