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Statues of Khmer Heroes Erected at Hun Sen Park

By: The Mekong Times Posted: February-22-2008 in
The Mekong Times

The statues of two famous Khmer literary figures - the great scholar and former Great Supreme Patriarch Choun Nath and the famous poet and musician Krom Nguy - were unveiled at Hun Sen Park Thursday by Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema.

"The statues are for Khmers of this generation and the next to remember these great heroes," Kep Chuktema said at the ceremony. He said that Choun Nath had achieved a great deal in his lifetime, especially his composition of 'Nokor Reach', Cambodia's national anthem; Buddhist songs; and the conservation of Khmer script.

Project Allows Poor Families to Afford Health Insurance

By: Khuon Leakhana and The Mekong Times Posted: February-20-2008 in
Khuon Leakhana and The Mekong Times

A micro-health insurance scheme which offers impoverished Cambodian households unlimited primary and emergency care for a super low monthly premium plans to expand into most of Cambodia's provinces and pull in a membership of up to 150,000 in the next four years.

The Sokapheap Krousar Yeung (SKY) - health for our families - insurance project was initiated by the French NGO Groupe d'Echange et de Recherche Technologiques (GRET) in Takeo in 1998. It has since continued to expand and is now also operating in Kandal and Kampot provinces and in Phnom Penh. The project is funded by the French Development Agency (FDA), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Health and Swiss Red Cross, and supported by the GTZ (the German government's technical cooperation agency).

The health insurance premiums are subsidized by GRET so that poor, vulnerable - mainly rural - families can afford them. Depending on the area, the monthly premiums cost between US$0.50 to US$0.98 for a single person and increase according to the number in the family. For an eight-person family the cost is from US$1.83 to US$2.68. The policies run in partnership with local public health facilities, which receive payment for their services from GRET in advance. The benefits aim to be comprehensive with unlimited access to designated hospitals and medical centers, including free prescribed drugs. In addition there is a funeral grant and cash assistance for mothers who attend hospitals to give birth, which aims to promote the mothers' safety.

An evaluation of the project, co-funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and FDA, is being led by Berkeley University, California in cooperation with the Royal University of Phnom Penh. It was launched on Feb 8 and will finish in 2011.

The assessment aims to measure the impact of SKY's health insurance on the financial security and overall health levels of its clients, and also the attitudes of the general population towards public healthcare services, according to an announcement from the French Embassy.

The program currently has around 10,000 members but plans to increase this to 100,000 to 150,000 by 2012.

"Health insurance is an important issue for the majority of Cambodians," said Cedric Salze, a GRET representative. "This project focuses mainly on expenses of the poor for basic health services, and this [will] contribute to poverty reduction," he said, adding that the project will expand into most other provinces later.

Jean David Naudet, an FDA representative, praised the cooperation between various institutions on the project, adding that it could serve as a model for other initiatives.

Deputy Chief of the Ministry of Health's Department of Planning and Health Information Sok Kanha said that the government's budget for health sector support is increasing from year to year, as its equity fund project currently still only covers less than 50 percent of the population.

Sanet Vathana, an official from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, said the government will also implement health insurance schemes for citizens in the future, with the ministry taxing civil servants' salaries.

"In this way government officials and the government will all share the cost," he said. Mey Van, chief of the Department of Industry and Finance, said both citizens and government officials at all levels need a proper healthcare system, but that the state cannot supply all of it due to a limited national budget.

Debts incurred by rising health expenditure are forcing many poor families to sell their land, creating a poverty trap, adds the press release. On average, each Cambodian spends around 18 dollars a year on health services - a large cost in a nation where annual salaries have been estimated by USAID to be as low as US$430.

Khuon Leakhana is a journalist at The Mekong Times

Helen Jarvis - 21 Years in Cambodiaa

By: Charlotte Lancaster Posted: February-20-2008 in
Charlotte Lancaster

Released from long periods of instability and liberated by peace, Cambodia has come a long way since Mrs. Jarvis, Chief of Public Affairs, ECCC, first arrived in Cambodia in 1967. Visiting the region as part of a student leadership programme, Helen fondly remembers the curiosity of a people leisurely commuting on remorque's as they inquisitively observe the lone foreigner marvelling the temples of Angkor.

Naga Rises out of River's Rubbish

By: Dan Poynton The Mekong Times Posted: February-15-2008 in
Dan Poynton The Mekong Times

"The whole project is a load of rubbish!" some concerned citizens are saying, and the organizers of The Rubbish Project (TRP) would totally agree. TRP is holding a host of environmentally friendly and whacky festivities on World Water Day, March 22, to bring awareness to the public about the pollution of the Kingdom's waterways.

Personality Finance: Banking with Brinsden

By: Charlotte Lancaster Posted: February-06-2008 in
Charlotte Lancaster

"Good question - why was I given an Order of the British Empire?" John Brinsden's humble, self-effacing humour permeates the conversation as he reveals tales born from an extraordinary life of travel and accomplishment and the occasional G&T.

AK47s,M16s and a mad old plonker called Mia Farrow

By: The Phnom Pen Posted: February-05-2008 in
The Phnom Pen

Got a bit of a rude shock on the weekend. As Leakhena and I headed out of our front gate for our ritual Sunday morning noodles at Olympic Stadium we were confronted by a small battalion of armed soldiers packing some serious heat.

Battle Lines

By: Junlah Putnam Posted: February-05-2008 in
Junlah Putnam

There was a time in which ants and I lived in balanced harmony…in our home they marched along the side of the window sill near our kitchen sink, blending in with the black border of the window rarely marching out of their window trench... this was a time of peace, harmony and understanding…I knew that the ants would remain in their trench unless I broke a treaty agreement and left a plate of leftovers out over night or even left spilled juice on that rare occasion...

Keystone Kops

By: EAS Staff Posted: January-31-2008 in
EAS Staff

As the driver of a motorbike or car on Phnom Penh's roads, there is a group of chaps you are going to have to deal with at some stage.

They are dressed in blue, they carry guns, they hunt in packs and they are Phnom Penh's finest.
More specifically - they are Traffic Policeman. Abhorred by everyone, they are a part of life here and when you do eventually get pulled over, the fine you pay is only limited by your ability to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Plastic bag fashion is fighting poverty, but can it save the world?

By: Bronwyn Sloan Posted: January-01-2006 in
Bronwyn Sloan

On a balmy tropical night in Phnom Penh earlier this year, a glamorous fashion show took place. But while a catwalk in Southeast Asia might be expected to rustle with the sound of sumptuous silks, it was recycled plastics as "rubbish couture" that shimmered and swirled when the models stepped out in at this unusual event.

Barang Beware!!

By: Naomi T. Robinson Posted: January-01-2006 in
Naomi T. Robinson

Crime is on the increase. Whether it's due to the magical disappearance of the amusement park on Sisowath Quay (a former favorite teenage hangout), or the new appearance of a growing middle class, some Khmer teenagers have begun to take to the streets with guns.

This last Saturday two Australian Ex-pats were walking home after dinner in the BKK neighbourhood and were stopped by a young man on an expensive bike with a very large handgun. He spoke one word of English to them "Money", took their cash, wallets, sense of safety and sped off.

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