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PRESS RELEASE: Cambodia Recognized for Progress in Reducing Maternal Mortality

May 20, 2014  • Elise Mann

Contact: Elise Mann
Aspen Global Health and Development
The Aspen Institute
202-322-8142 |



Efforts to Prioritize Care for Pregnant Women Yield Notable Results

Geneva, May 20, 2014 – Today the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLC) presents the 2014 Resolve Award Special Mention to the Cambodian government. The Honorable Dr. Mam BunhengMinister of Health of Cambodia, will accept the award at a ceremony during the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Special Mention honors the leadership of country governments for expanding access to essential reproductive health services. Itrecognizes the Cambodian government’s systematic and persistent efforts to strengthen reproductive health service delivery and reduce maternal mortality. The initiatives have helped to reduce Cambodia’s maternal mortality rate by almost 60% since 2005.

More than a decade ago, the Cambodian government began to expand and strengthen public health services to meet the needs of pregnant women. As a result, the number of births in health facilities assisted by skilled birth attendants has increased, and maternal mortality has declined.

Some of these changes include increasing the number of emergency care service centers with capacity to attend pregnant women twenty-four hours day. The Ministry of Health also updated its midwife training programs, and recruited and retained more skilled professionals to assist in childbirth and provide a range of maternal health services.

The government initiated fee exemptions, subsidies, and incentives to counter to financial barriers to medical care during pregnancy and birth and mass media campaigns and health education efforts to raise awareness. Now nearly 70% of pregnant women give birth with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant.

This progress not only saves lives, but also supports families and communities. “Maternal health has to be a priority,” said Dr. Kannitha Cheang with the World Health Organization of Cambodia. “The family’s backbone is always a woman. When she is healthy, the family is healthy and this in turn makes the whole community and society healthy too.”

The Resolve Award is granted by the GLC, a group of 16 sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders who build political leadership for increased financial and technical support for reproductive health. In addition to Cambodia,Afghanistan is also recognized by the Resolve Award Special Mention. Peru and Tanzania were selected as the 2014 Resolve Award recipients for policy development and service delivery, respectively.

Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, GLC member, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, and a global champion for women and girls, will present the award at a public ceremony held at Domaine de Penthes, in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Cambodia and other Resolve Award winners can inspire other countries, says Dr. Kanyoro“Their work recognizes that reproductive health is connected to a broad range of development objectives, including education, livelihoods, and security. By engaging multiple sectors in strategies that meet the needs of young people, including their reproductive health needs, this year’s award winners exemplify innovative models for development.”

 As the global conversation shifts to the priorities that the post-2015 development agenda will hold, Cambodia and other Resolve Award winners are pointing the way forward. The Resolve Award winners show us the importance of universal access to reproductive health and rights, and effective strategies for making progress toward that goal,” says Dr. Kanyoro.

View the webcast of the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. ET on May 20, 2014 at  and participate via Twitter by following @GLCRHresolve and #ResolveAward.