Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung at the GE workshop on Innovation in Healthcare Solutions

Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra
May 30, 2017
(as delivered)

Dr. Sung Vinntak, Mr. Dararith Lim, Mr. Ian Bragg, Mr. Kenny Sun, Mr. Scott Neeson, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen. Thank you for inviting me here to participate in this GE workshop on Innovation in Healthcare Solutions. I’m honored to be a part of this event to introduce Cambodian healthcare professionals to new technologies and techniques which will help Cambodians to live healthier and longer lives.

I’m so proud of American companies such as GE for contributing to the health and development of Cambodia. Cambodia’s economy has grown tremendously in the past few decades. Just last year, Cambodia graduated to lower-middle income status. Hand-in-hand with this growing economy, we have seen increased opportunities for medical professionals as well as a demand by Cambodian citizens for better medical care and better access to health care. I commend those of you here today for exploring new technologies to meet that demand.

I just toured the booths at this event featuring some of GE’s most state of the art technology, including ultrasound scanners. As a mother myself, I know I would want the best equipment for my infant as all mothers would.

Now with this economic growth comes new challenges.

Statistics show us, for example, that 62 percent of health spending in Cambodia comes directly from patients, without help from insurance or other sources. How people pay for their medical care is a topic that needs to be addressed.

The U.S. government and other partners have helped Cambodia develop the Health Equity Fund which now provides over 3 million poor Cambodians with access to health care to meet their basic health needs. This insurance scheme has reduced out-of-pocket expenditure by nearly one-third for the beneficiaries, and reduced by one-quarter the debt they incur in connection with health care. As you can imagine, this leads to a virtuous cycle: families that stay out of debt have more money to spend on basic needs, which keeps them healthier and more productive, which contributes to Cambodia’s economy, which creates more possibilities for further helping the population. In this way, I think we can see that improved health is healthy for the economy as well.

I am particularly happy to be here with Dr. Sung Vinntak, who is representing the Minister of Health. Dr. Vinntak and I were just discussing his trip to the United States on the International Visitors Leadership Program where he visited the world-famous Mayo Clinic. As Cambodia continues to develop its health capacity, it too can strive towards its own Mayo Clinic in the future. The Ministry has worked tirelessly to forge partnerships with many stakeholders to build a stronger health system through his years of service. The Ministry has also welcomed our health cooperation with USAID, CDC, and Peace Corps volunteers to make a difference in the lives of Cambodians.

Cambodians don’t simply deserve access to healthcare, they deserve the best quality of healthcare available. Quality of services in both the public and private health sectors depends on healthcare providers, like you, have the skills and resources available to provide the best possible care and treatment. I’m confident that during today’s event you will benefit from learning about some of GE’s technologies which will, in turn, provide you with new options for treating your patients.

The medical professionals at this workshop, with the training they will get, will be on the frontlines of making the sort of positive change that has the chance to help every man, woman and child in Cambodia. It is exciting to think about how many lives you will be able to improve because of your participation today. Earlier this morning, I got to meet some of the young Cambodian doctors in attendance. I could tell they have the energy, intelligence, and passion to help develop the health sector here.

I am particularly proud to be here today as GE presents its new technologies and power solutions to Cambodia. This workshop represents how the American business community can contribute to the development and progress of Cambodia.

GE, which is one of the largest and most successful U.S. companies, has a long history of innovation and has introduced new technologies in healthcare, energy, and transportation to countries around the world. In addition to being an industry leader, GE has made significant contributions to help the Cambodian people access clean water and better healthcare through its corporate social responsibility arm, the GE Foundation. The GE Foundation has donated medical equipment to 35 hospitals across the country and provided international-standard technical training for Cambodian medical professionals. The foundation has also installed water purification systems in ten provincial hospitals. These contributions demonstrate GE’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all Cambodians.

GE and the U.S. Embassy look forward to working more closely with the Cambodian Government to bring higher quality healthcare to the Cambodian people, contributing to the growth of the country, and strengthening the business and economic ties between our two countries.

Thank you.