Feature story

Cambodia takes MDG prize for excellence in its AIDS response

20 September 2010

At a ceremony held in New York on the eve of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit, the Kingdom of Cambodia was presented with an MDG Award for its outstanding national leadership, commitment and progress towards achievement of Goal 6 and particularly in working towards halting and reversing the spread of HIV.

Honoured within the ‘Government’ category of the annual Awards initiative, Cambodia is recognized for efforts on HIV that have contributed to a decline in HIV prevalence from an estimated 2% (among adults aged 15-49) in 1998 to 0.8% in 2008. The country has also achieved the universal access target for antiretroviral treatment, with over 90% of adults and children in need receiving treatment.

In selecting Cambodia, the MDG Awards Committee was particularly impressed with Cambodia’s successful scale-up of programmes, grounded in strong national leadership on HIV, the solid National Strategic Plan and collaborative partnerships, and adhering closely to the  ‘Three Ones’ principles.

“We are honoured to receive this award as important recognition of the joint efforts to address HIV in Cambodia,” said H.E. Dr. Teng Kunthy, Secretary-General of the Cambodia National AIDS Authority. “This outstanding success has been brought about by strong political support, leadership and commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia in solid partnership with and support by UN agencies, civil society, the private sector and all development partners – a partnership which we will continue to strengthen towards even greater results.”

“We congratulate Cambodia on this Award. This underlines how a well-coordinated, multi-sectoral response with commitment by all partners can lead to significant progress on HIV,” said Douglas Broderick, the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia.

Innovative HIV prevention programming in Cambodia over the last ten years has included the introduction of the 100% Condom Use Policy, which showed successes in preventing new infections. Targeted education programmes for key affected populations have reached an estimated 90% of sex and entertainment workers and men who have sex with men.

Progress has also led to impact on the other health-related MDGs of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Scale-up of HIV services has contributed to a nearly 50% decrease in HIV prevalence among pregnant women at antenatal clinics. In 2009, over 32% of HIV-infected pregnant women received treatment to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV – an increase from 11.2% in 2007.

Heralding the effective partnership between the government and other stakeholders engaged in the national response, the UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Cambodia, Tony Lisle, underlined the need for sustained, evidence-based and well-coordinated efforts.

“HIV is still a very real challenge in this country, and stigma and discrimination remain high,” said Mr Lisle. “We must now work together to ensure we continue reaching key people at risk and those affected by HIV through initiatives grounded in human rights. For Cambodia to stay ahead of its epidemic, we have to build further on the achievements made.”

The MDG Awards are held annually to support and raise awareness of the MDGs by providing a high profile platform to honour and celebrate exemplary efforts by national governments and civil society stakeholders in advancing the MDGs.