[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national
polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The
"Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and
Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This
is the second in a two-part series examining the state of Cambodian health
As the country heads into a campaign period, competing
parties have found an easy target as they search for failings in the current
administration: a weak healthcare system they call unethical and
Government health officials say they are improving the
ethics and practices of the nation's doctors step by step, but competing parties are using the rural hospitals, which are often rundown, and underpaid doctors, to build campaign platforms against the ruling party.
Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Chiem Yeap said the party
has run the government for 30 years and is working to improve the healthcare
field, especially in rural areas. Already, a policy of free vaccinations and
other treatments is in place, he said.
Other parties, however, say that in practice, there is no
free health care, as individual doctors ask for money from their patients. And with a one-month
campaign period that begins Thursday, they will seek to convince voters they
have the best new policies for the ailing healthcare system.
Doctors in the provinces have no ethics, hospitals are old
and unsanitary and some doctors act as though they can cure the ills of
everyone, from children to the elderly, said Muth Chantha, spokesman for the Norodom
The NRP has several strategies prepared to fix the health
system, including the reform of Cambodia's
code of ethics, more money for doctors, improved technical tools for clinics and hospitals,
and a larger budget for the Ministry of Health. The party would also like to
see true, free healthcare for the nation's poor, he said.
Free treatment for the poor and a larger budget for the
health sector are on the platform of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.
"Public hospitals are full of corruption and have no
professional ethics," party leader Sam Rainsy said.
Seng Sokheng, secretary-general of the Hang Dara Democratic
Movement Party, said the party the party "will eliminate all problems
where people meet difficulties," he said.
The party does not want people to fear the hospitals, he
said, and would seek to bring the lowest cost of medicine to people, following
the example of Thailand.
"Now not only the poor, but the rich have no confidence
in the health system of Cambodia,"
said Ban Sophal, president of the Society of Justice Party, which he said would
seek to provide modern tools and better hospital buildings to healthcare
"I will not let people die because they have no money
to go to the hospital," he said. "My party will be responsible on