Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung at the Dedication Ceremony for Siem Reap Blood Center

Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung at the Dedication Ceremony for Siem Reap Regional Blood Center
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Siem Reap
March 3, 2016

To His Excellency Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health; His Excellency Song Riha, , Siem Reap Provincial Deputy Governor; Dr.Hok Kimcheng, Director of the National Blood Transfusion Center; Dr. Kros Sarath, Director of the Siem Reap Provincial Health Department; and other guests here today, good morning. I appreciate every opportunity I get to visit beautiful Siem Reap, especially on an occasion like today that highlights the close relationship and cooperation between our two countries and will make significant new improvements to this community’s health care.

First of all, I would like to highlight what an important milestone today represents for health care in Cambodia and in Siem Reap. The new Regional Blood Center we are opening today will collect, maintain, and distribute a clean, safe blood supply for this community, which will deliver many benefits to public health.

As we know well, serious motorbike and traffic accidents, for example, can cause victims to lose large amounts of blood. The blood supply that the new facility we are opening today will collect and maintain can provide the key to their survival. The same can be said of mothers who suffer life-threatening blood loss during childbirth, as well as victims of internal intestinal bleeding that may result from unknowingly taking dangerous counterfeit drugs. Surviving these and other instances of blood loss can depend on reliable access to replacement blood.

Another critical contribution of the Regional Blood Center will be not just to counter health problems that result from loss of blood, but also those diseases that might be accidentally transmitted to people through blood. Some of the most dangerous health threats in Cambodia—for example, HIV/AIDS and malaria—fall into this category. The new Regional Blood Center will be staffed and equipped to conduct the kind of rigorous analysis that can detect and then prevent the unchecked spread of these kinds of diseases.

For attaining these kinds of leaps forward in Cambodia’s health care I must recognize and thank His Excellency Mam Bunheng for his planning and vision of progress. In the specific area of blood supply collection and management Dr. Hok Kimcheng has been the able and faithful implementer. Here in Siem Reap, I thank His Excellency Khim Bunsong, Siem Reap Provincial Governor as well as Deputy Governor Song Riha, for their leadership in making health care a priority for this area, and also Dr. Kros Sarath, Director of the Siem Reap Provincial Health Department, whom I know has been making great improvements to this province’s medical care. To all of you and the hard-working men and women whom you lead—and I see many here in the audience—I honor the life-saving work you carry out every day.

It is the privilege of the United States to be your partners in making Siem Reap and the rest of Cambodia healthier, happier places. I am very proud that the U.S. military’s Pacific Command, or PACOM, partnered with Cambodia in not only building and equipping this new Regional Blood Center building, but even more importantly, also in the training and preparation of the men and women who will work inside.

The dedication of those working in Cambodia’s health care system, from top to bottom, has attracted the U.S.’s continuing broad investment in their mission and success. Just over two weeks ago Cambodia and the U.S. opened a nearly identical Regional Blood Center in Kampong Cham, and later this year will bring the opening of a new National Blood Transfusion Center in Phnom Penh.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have a long relationship with supporting a clean, safe blood supply for Cambodia. Along with our friends at the Australian Red Cross and the World Health Organization, they have been assisting in strategic planning, training, and development for the Cambodian blood supply and working towards the international accreditation of the National Blood Transfusion Center. The U.S. values the chance to take part in this kind of international partnership and cooperation.

In closing, on behalf of the U.S. let me express again what an honor it is to assist the critical work you do in support of Cambodian health. I wish you continued success in protecting the lives and well-being of your neighbors, friends, families, and even the many international visitors who come to visit Angkor Wat and to experience the warmth of the people here that has made Siem Reap a world-renowned tourist destination. And finally, I offer a heartfelt thank you to all the health care professionals here in the audience who work hard every day for their community. Thank you.