Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the Dedication Ceremony for Nation Blood Transfusion Center

National Blood Transfusion Center (NBTC), Phnom Penh
June 14, 2016

His Excellency Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health; His Excellency Hun Many, President of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia; Dr. Hok Kimcheng, Director of the National Blood Transfusion Center; Dr. Dong Il Ahn, World Health Organization Representative in Cambodia; Brigadier General Milhorn from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to be here to celebrate World Blood Donor Day and mark another important milestone for Cambodia’s public health system with the opening of the new National Blood Transfusion Center.

Today’s Cambodia is developing rapidly.  Tall cranes tower over major construction projects in Phnom Penh and many other cities.  While many of those buildings may be bigger or more expensive, the very impressive facility we are opening today is every bit as important.

I recently saw pictures from the ground-breaking ceremony in December 2014 at this very site.  Back then, this area was bare ground.  A number of distinguished visitors representing the United States, Cambodia, and its international development partners took turns shoveling a bit of earth, symbolically beginning the construction.  Those pictures show clearly just how many people had to come together to accomplish this important project.

One and a half years later, we stand here on that same spot, which is now beautifully paved and in the shadow of this spectacular new facility.  This would not have been possible without the effort, expertise, and cooperation from many different people and organizations.

This brand-new center is designed and built to follow the highest international standards for Blood Banks.  It was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Cambodian contractors, with international support from Australian Blood Services, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) .

The building, of course, is only part of what makes a functioning health facility.  The United States is also proud to support other aspects of this blood center, including the installation of new equipment, the training of personnel, and the providing of ongoing technical assistance.  We hope this assistance will help the National Blood Transfusion Center achieve international accreditation in the near future.

I would like to thank Minister Mam Bunheng and his colleagues for their leadership and support.  I would also like to thank my colleagues from U.S. Pacific Command, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria, and Australian Blood Services for your hard work and close collaboration on this project.

Today we join millions around the globe in celebration of World Blood Donor Day.  This year’s theme is “Blood connects us all”.  It focuses on thanking blood donors and highlights the powerful connection between blood donors and patients.  I hope this impressive new blood bank facility will attract more people to regularly donate under the popular slogan “Share life, give blood.”

Health represents the largest development investment of the United States in Cambodia and is at the heart of the cooperation between our two countries.  The construction of this state-of-the-art facility is part of a larger collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Health that includes support to combat HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, as well as technical assistance in areas such as health information systems, laboratory services, and outbreak response.

I look forward to hearing about the great things that will come out of this new National Blood Transfusion Center.  Most importantly, I hope it will help Cambodia soon reach the day when no patients die because of a lack of safe blood.

Thank you again for inviting me to join this ceremony today.  The United States is very proud to partner with Cambodia to build modern medical facilities like this one, which benefits the health of all Cambodians.

Thank you very much.