Assistant Director-General Dr. Naoko Yamamoto advocates for universal health coverage towards Health for All in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, 5 February 2018 – WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Naoko Yamamoto led a high-level visit to understand Cambodia’s progress and challenges towards universal health coverage from 2-4 February 2018.

Dr. Yamamoto met with H.E. Dr Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health, and H.E. Dr Or Vandine, Director-General for Heath, who reiterated the Royal Government of Cambodia’s commitment to move towards universal health coverage, and highlighted recent initiatives to improve quality at primary care level, to provide financial support to all pregnant women, and to ensure health coverage for 3 millions Cambodians who otherwise could not afford health services. Several challenges, like continuing to provide further health access in rural areas, further improving service delivery quality, and expanding services for noncommunicable diseases, were also raised.

Dr. Yamamoto also met with H.E. Mme Nguon Sokha, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, to discuss the Ministry’s efforts to expand social health insurance towards universal health coverage, including the efforts of the National Social Security Fund.

There was also the opportunity for Dr. Yamamoto to visit primary care and hospital facilities in Kampong Speu province and discuss with health workers on their experiences and challenges. This provided the opportunity to see and reflect upon Cambodia’s impressive progress in achieving the MDG health targets and expanding social health protection schemes, while also considering the remaining challenges discussed with the Minister of Health, Secretary of State and Director-General.

Dr. Yamamoto affirmed WHO’s commitment to providing strong support to the Royal Government of Cambodia to sustain progress towards universal health coverage and address these challenges.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while not experiencing undue financial hardship.

New data from WHO and the World Bank show that at least half of the world’s population still does not have access to essential health services, and when available, using them can mean financial ruin. Every year, 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty because of health spending.

In its first report to measure countries’ progress towards universal health coverage and health-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), WHO has found that countries in the Western Pacific Region are on track for some targets, but overall progress is too slow to hit global targets by 2030.