Health system strengthening in Cambodia - A case study of health policy response to social transition

Type Journal Article - Health policy
Title Health system strengthening in Cambodia - A case study of health policy response to social transition
Volume 92
Issue 2-3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Page numbers 107-115
Cambodia, following decades of civil conflict and social and economic transition, has in the last 10 years developed health policy innovations in the areas of health contracting, health financing and health planning. This paper aims to outline recent social, epidemiological and demographic health trends in Cambodia, and on the basis of this outline, to analyse and discuss these policy responses to social transition.

Sources of information included a literature review, participant observation in health planning development in Cambodia between 1993 and 2008, and comparative analysis of demographic health surveys between 2000 and 2005.

In Cambodia there have been sharp but unequal improvements in child mortality, and persisting high maternal mortality rates. Data analysis demonstrates associations between location, education level and access to facility based care, suggesting the dominant role of socio-economic factors in determining access to facility based health care. These events are taking place against a background of rapid social transition in Cambodian history, including processes of decentralization, privatization and the development of open market economic systems. Primary policy responses of the Ministry of Health to social transition and associated health inequities include the establishment of health contracting, hospital health equity funds and public–private collaborations.

Despite the internationally recognized health policy flexibility and innovation demonstrated in Cambodia, policy response still lags well behind the reality of social transition. In order to minimize the delay between transition and response, new policy making tactics are required in order to provide more flexible and timely responses to the ongoing social transition and its impacts on population health needs in the lowest socio-economic quintiles

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