Study |What we learned in the activity . - AIDS situation in Cambodia - Non-Profit Organization Touch In Peace

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Study - AIDS situation in Cambodia -

The average male life expectancy and the average female life expectancy in Cambodia are 54.2 and 61.1, respectively. In 2007 the infant mortality rate was eighty eight (per 1,000 births) and dropped to eighteen this year. For comparison, the infant mortality rate in Japan is one.

Kingdom of Cambodia, after going through the civil war and accompanying confusion that lasted for more than 20 years from 1970’s, had nothing but its collapsed social basis.
The Pol Pot government denied anyone with an education or intelligence, and slaughtered a large number of intellectuals such as teachers and doctors, ruining the country’s medical and educational systems. The resulting damage still affects the status of educational recovery in the country.
The country’s medical system including Maternal and Child Health has been hard hit too. After the civil war ended in 1991, owing to the peacekeeping operation by United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia from 1992 and support from the international community, the infant and maternal mortality rates have been reduced. However, compared with neighboring countries, the medical level of Cambodia is still unsatisfactory due to a continuous lack of leaders, and therefore the country has a high mortality rate.

Landmines are still left in the ground throughout the country and cause more than 400 casualties every year. Removing landmines, supporting casualties from landmines, etc. remain unsolved problems. Also, one of the causes of the poverty in Cambodia is its industrial structure. The poor have limited means of access to the job market and have no opportunity to receive medical care and an education, which keeps them trapped in poverty. The country’s unfair administration is pointed out as another factor contributing to the poverty.

HIV / AIDS and gender
The administration of anti-HIV drugs to children (to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV) saved 409 thousands children from HIV infection throughout the world from 2009 to 2011, and the number of new child HIV infections keeps decreasing. Currently, HIV treatment coverage among children is 28%.
According to a global report by UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), the number of people (both children and adults) living with HIV are 5,000,000 in East Asia and South East Asia while the number is twenty five times more in Africa. However, the number of deaths from HIV has been significantly reduced by the administration of anti-HIV drugs.

In spite of a decreased rate of HIV infections in Cambodia, people living with HIV and their families are put in severe situations. In recent years, the rate of HIV infections among women is increasing, and the major cause of this is husbands passing on HIV to their wives. One third of HIV infections is mother-to-child transmission.
Touch In Peace provides treatment mainly to children living with HIV. Most people don’t have correct knowledge of HIV / AIDS, and due to the lack of knowledge, AIDS patients are oppressed and discriminated in society. Many of them are refused to receive medical services and continue their work, abandoned by their family and, even after death, refused to be buried in a cemetery. Children living with HIV are no exceptions. As a matter of fact, some children who come to children’s homes are skinny from not being fed and have many scars all over the body from abuse.

The rate of people who are HIV infected by injection of medication is relatively high in Cambodia compared with other countries. In many countries like this as well as Cambodia, the public sectors do not regard HIV control as a priority matter. Their HIV control program is unstable because more than 90% of the budget for the program is made up of support from other countries. There is a list of countries where an HIV prevention program is offered for sex workers, and Cambodia is listed in the section of countries with no report of such.

Prostitution and physical labor at sewing plants
The Constitution of Cambodia states that women and men are equal and guarantees their social status and rights. In reality, however, their traditional values and customs hinder women and men to accept equal social opportunities. The percentage of girls having an opportunity of receiving an academic education is lower than that of boys, and the difference in percentage becomes more significant among upper grade children. Girls from families living in poverty, in addition to the tradition of supporting their families, are expected to work away from the village when they reach an age of being able to work as a labor. Most girls with little education have not many choices but working as laborers at sewing plants or prostitutes. Dozens of girls being loaded in the back of a truck is a common scene in commuter streets in the morning.