Monday, May 4, 2009

Cambodia Takes Measures to Prevent Spread of Pig Influenza

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia has taken measures to reduce the impact of swine influenza, should the disease arrive on these shores in future. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who appealed to all people to be careful and be prepared.

“To prevent the spread of swine influenza in Cambodia, the Royal Government has already prepared strategic plans and is taking action to ensure the health of Cambodians,” Hun Sen said during a gradation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh on April 29.

The Premier said the government has provided the nation with regular swine flu updates. He has installed thermal scanners at Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap to scan for feverish and potentially infected travelers.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has also prepared medicines and related equipment and has deployed doctors at all hospitals, health centers and checkpoints along the borders with Thailand, Lao and Vietnam.

“Swine influenza is a new disease affecting the globe. It is a serious challenge because swine flu is easier to catch than bird flu though the signs are it is nowhere near as deadly,” Hun Sen said. “We have to find measures to prevent the spread of the disease.”

The Premier called on all concerned ministries and local authorities to cooperate on this issue in providing access to information. He also appealed for calm.
“I appeal all people in Cambodia to be careful about the spread of the virus and I request that if possible, each family should prepare their own masks. Those with a fever must wear masks and rush to hospital,” he added.
The premier pointed out that to prevent the spread of the disease, he has recommended that his Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh contact Surin Pinsowan, ASEAN Secretary-General, to hold an emergency meeting in Thailand.

He said that currently as Thailand is the chair country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand will play the role of chairman for this meeting, where ways to prevent this epidemic affecting bilateral trade will be discussed.

“As a member of ASEAN, we should have an emergency meeting to take action against swine flu,” Hun Sen said. “I hope that with these measures, we will able to prevent the spread of pig influenza.”

The Premier emphasized that despite weak facilities, given the national spirit and willingness to prepare, Cambodia can prevent the spread of many deadly diseases such as bird flu.

Dr. Sok Touch, Director of the Anti-Communicable Disease Department said that to prevent the spread of the disease the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MoAFF), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have been working very hard in providing advice and information to local people.

Dr. Touch said that MoH has installed two scanning machines at the International Phnom Penh Airport and Siem Reap Airport to scan the passengers alighting in Cambodia.

The Director said his ministry has deployed hundreds of medical doctors at all state hospitals, referral hospitals or operation district hospitals and health centers in villages, communes, districts, cities and provinces across the country.

He continued that his ministry has also deployed medical doctors at all the checkpoints along the borders in order to check up on citizens or foreign visitors who are suspected of catching this illness. Suspect cases will be prevented from entering the country.

He added that the MoH and MoAFF, in cooperation with WHO and FAO will conduct research and take action with the pig farming industry if necessary. However, the priority is to focus on passengers arriving from infected countries.

Dr. Penh Chong, Health Officer in charge of the Outbreak Disease Program in the Ministry of Health, said the signs of swine flu include a fever of 38 degrees or more along with a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath.

Dr. Chong advised that people returning from affected countries in the last seven days who have developed the signs must contact or go to the nearest hospitals or clinics for medical treatment.

He added that medical personnel and the public are being asked to report to the MoH hotlines at the following numbers: 012 488 981 and 089 669 556. Alternatively, they should report the case to the nearest health facility.


On April 30, The Ministry of Health and The World Health Organization conducted a joint press conference on the “Spread of Pig Influenza” in order to alert the populace about ways to avoid contracting the disease.

Eng Huot, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Health, said that the Cambodian government has prepared a strategic plan and will do all in its power to prevent the spread of the virus in Cambodia.

The Secretary of State said that to prevent the disease, the Ministry of Health has been spreading information about the situation to the public and all concerned ministries and institutions nationwide.

He continued that his ministry has also convinced all staff in state hospitals, clinics or health centers as well as in private clinics to prepare to prepare for an influx of patients by ensuring and adequate supply of antiviral drugs.

He said that his ministry has prepared a total of 15, 750 doses of medicines, along with other medical supplies and equipment, and has distributed this material to all the state hospitals and health centers throughout the country.

He added that his ministry will also install more scanning machines at all the important checkpoints along Cambodia’s borders with Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Michael O’Leary, Country Director of the World Health Organization in Cambodia, said that to prevent the spread of pig influenza in Cambodia, the WHO has prepared technical staff and medical experts to help and work alongside the Cambodian Health Ministry as well as other concerned authorities in the fight against the virus.

O’Leary said that his organization has also prepared a budget, medical supplies and other related equipment, should the virus penetrate the nation’s defenses.

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