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Indonesian Embassy hosts health festival in Sihanoukville

Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia, Santo Darmosumarto (C), Deputy Governor of Preah Sihanouk Mang Sineth (L) and Preas Muslim (R), Undersecretary of the Health Ministry, at the openiing cermony of the Indonesia Health Fest at the Prince Times Hotel in Sihanoukville on Saturday. Indonesian Embassy in Cambodia

The Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh hosted the Indonesia Health Fest (IHF) in Sihanoukville on Friday and Saturday in order to foster collaboration and cooperation between the health sectors of Indonesia and Cambodia to the benefit of both countries.

The opening ceremony of IHF 2024 took place on Friday at the Prince Times Hotel and featured opening remarks from Deputy Governor of Preah Sihanouk Mang Sineth, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Health Preas Muslim and Santo Darmosumarto, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Cambodia. Around 800 people were in attendance at the event.

IHF 2024 showcased a comprehensive exhibition sponsored by the Indonesian and Cambodian health industries. Attendees benefitted from free basic medical health checks and participated in a health forum that included presentations from health practitioners, experts and policymakers from both countries discussing crucial health-related issues.

Ambassador Darmosumarto said on Saturday that it was time for Indonesia and Cambodia to rely more on each other for many of their needs.

He added that Indonesia-Cambodia health cooperation is boundless because there is a growing trade in pharmaceutical and health products, including herbal products, and there is also great potential for cooperation in digital health, human resources and capacity building, construction of medical facilities and hospital-to-hospital collaboration.

Healthcare workers staff one of the exhibits at the Indonesia Health Fair held in Sihanoukville June 8-9.

“We often look too much to other parts of the world when, in fact, honest, mutually beneficial, forward-looking partnerships can be found very close to our homes in the Southeast Asian region,” he said.

Ambassador Darmosumarto said that in 2023 pharmaceuticals were one of Indonesia’s top five exports to Cambodia, valued at around $17 million and that the Indonesia Health Fest provides a good platform for increasing the interactions, communication, and networking among stakeholders in the health industry in both countries.

He added that the festival will also showcase the potential for cooperation in improving human resources in the health sector through training, providing scholarships, and exchanging trends and knowledge in health-related fields.

“The organising of the Indonesia Health Fest is also part of the embassy’s commitment to protect Indonesian nationals in Cambodia by encouraging a healthier lifestyle. In the last two years, we have seen more Indonesians suffering from various health problems that could have been prevented had early detection been done,” Ambassador Darmosumarto said.

He said that for this reason, apart from the exhibition of health products and medicines, the Indonesia Health Fest also featured forums where Indonesian citizens could learn more about healthy diets, the importance of mental health, and knowledge about infectious and degenerative diseases that are common among Indonesians in Cambodia, especially in Sihanoukville.

He said that there would be fun physical activities to trigger a healthy lifestyle and free basic medical checkups throughout the two-day event.

Kuoch Chamroeun, Governor of Preah Sihanouk province, said yesterday that the vision for Sihanoukville is to push Cambodia to become a strategic location for the production chain in the region, since Cambodia is geographically located near the centre of the region.

Chamroeun added that the important international transportation services of Sihanoukville include international deep-sea ports, international airports, infrastructure systems, interconnected roads and the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, all of which has facilitated tourism, trade, business and transmission of goods, services and logistics between local and international markets, which has greatly contributed to increasing and promoting the export-import traffic between Cambodia, ASEAN and Europe.

The government has prepared a master plan for Sihanoukville to develop it into a multi-purpose special economic zone in accordance with the Cambodian Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, according to Chamroeun.

He said the town will be divided into residential, commercial, industrial, administrative, financial, tourism, religious and cultural areas to guide development and boost the national economy so as to achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

Chamroeun added that the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration is continuing to strengthen operations of its health systems to be more efficient, especially focusing on providing high quality, safe, effective and equitable health services to all people.

He said that includes paying attention to providing health services through the intervention of reproductive health programmes, maternal-infant and children’s healthcare, nutrition for women and children, infectious disease programmes, non-communicable disease programmes and public health issues.

He added that the expansion of health service coverage and public health interventions goes hand in hand with improving the quality of prevention, treatment and care services. Equity in access to health services and health financing has been continuously promoted through the coverage of equity funds across the country since the end of 2015, which were funded by the government and development partners in conjunction with the government’s exemption policy.

“The payment for health services by geography and financial barriers has been removed by providing financial risk prevention to poor households to access health services at public health facilities free of charge in case of health problems or illnesses. This will not only improve the health standards of the poor but also prevent more people from falling into poverty due to healthcare expenses,” he said.

Preas Muslim, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Health, said that the event aimed to promote Indonesian health products and encourage healthy lifestyles among Cambodians and Indonesians living in Cambodia, including free health screenings, product sales and exhibitions, games, and giveaways.

He added that the event was held to celebrate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Cambodia, highlight the close ties between the two countries for more than six decades and to enhance strong cooperation between the two nations in all development sectors.

“We know that good health does not start in a hospital or clinic. It starts in our homes and communities with the food we eat and the water we drink, the air we breathe in our schools and workplaces. Health and well-being are universal values. We come together now to increase the spirit of cooperation and commitment together to improve health,” he said.

Muslim added that in recent years, Cambodia has made significant improvements to health and socio-economic factors, increasing its average life expectancy and reducing poverty through economic growth.

Muslim noted that the health sector had helped make progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by contributing to reducing infant, child and maternal mortality as well as reducing the prevalence of major communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (MDGs 4, 5, and 6) since 2015.

He noted that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic diseases that cause disability and incapacity for work, threatening and exacerbating poverty, which in turn affects the national economy.

He added that the increase in premature deaths caused by NCDs was due to four main risk factors: tobacco use, drug and alcohol use, physical inactivity and a poor diet.

“Therefore, in order to improve health, the Ministry encourages people to eat less sugar, less salt and less fat, which helps us to live longer. The Ministry will continue to strengthen the capacities of health centre and the supply of medicines and essential medical equipment,” he said.

Currently, about 3% of all registered pharmaceutical products in Cambodia originate from Indonesia, which highlights the important role of Indonesian medicine in the healthcare system.

Indonesia contributes to the supply of high-quality and affordable medicines to the Cambodian people.

Muslim said that the government encourages Indonesian pharmaceutical companies to invest in Cambodia, including the establishment of local factories and participation in research partnerships.

“By mobilising resources and skills, we can address common health challenges, develop new therapies, and improve the health of our people. Indonesia should also consider the possibility of establishing an international hospital (in Cambodia) equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and digital health modernisations,” he said.

The Indonesian Embassy and event sponsors also organised door prizes for the attendees. Prizes included electric motorbikes, bicycles and smartwatches, adding an element of excitement to the event.

In 2023, Indonesian exports of health products to Cambodia amounted to $29.4 million while bilateral trade overall between the two nations reached $1.1 billion. Indonesia is keen to push for more interactions between the stakeholders in the health sectors of the two countries.



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