Royal Government of Cambodia and AIDS Healthcare Foundation to Dedicate Newest AIDS Treatment Center in Partnership in Romeas Haek

Official Clinic Dedication Ceremony Thursday, June 7th in Svay Rieng


Jun 07, 2007, 01:00 ET from AIDS Healthcare Foundation

    SVAY RIENG PROVINCE, Cambodia, June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- After dedicating
 and opening its fifth free collaborative antiretroviral treatment center in
 Cambodia on Saturday, June 2nd in Koh Thum, Kandal Province, AIDS
 Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the United
 States, which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Latin
 America/Caribbean, and Asia, is pleased to announce the opening of the
 sixth such free AIDS treatment centers in Cambodia, which will open
 Thursday, June 7, in Romeas Haek, Svay Rieng Province, with a
 ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony. The six clinics have resulted from
 a partnership between AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Ministry of
 Health, Royal Government of Cambodia and Cambodia's National Center for
 HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STI Control (NCHADS). The partnership aims to
 provide life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to people living with
 HIV/AIDS in care centers in the Operational Districts (OD) of several
 provinces in Cambodia; other ARTC center locations include in Phnom Penh
 and in the Provinces of Kandal, Kampong Thom, Kampot and Stung Treng.
     "AHF, the Cambodian Ministry of Health and NCHADS are pleased to have
 successfully opened our fifth collaborative ART center in Koh Thum on
 Saturday, and we are honored and deeply humbled to also now announce we
 will open our sixth facility in Romeas Haek later this week in Svay Rieng
 Province, bringing relief, positive changes, better quality life and above
 all hope of life" said Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, Asia Pacific Bureau Chief
 for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Working together over the next five years,
 we will expand and increase our collaborative initiatives in Cambodia, and
 AHF will continue to provide technical support and strengthen the
 antiretroviral treatment roll out and scale up of ART delivery services in
 Cambodia. It is our sincere hope that this ongoing collaboration between
 AHF and NCHADS will not only improve increased access to HIV/AIDS care and
 treatment throughout Cambodia but be a shining example of a comprehensive
 model of care for people living with HIV/AIDS."
     At Saturday's Koh Thum clinic dedication ceremony in Kandal Province,
 Dr. Mean Chhi Vun, Director NCHADS, and Advisor to the Ministry of Health,
 Royal Government of Cambodia, expressed his gratitude to AHF for standing
 alongside NCHADS and the people of Cambodia to help bring lifesaving
 services to its people. Dr. Vun also expressed gratitude to AHF for working
 together with his team at some of the more remote sites, situated in the
 country -- as the new Romeas Haek site is. He added that, "...together with
 AHF, we will make greater positive changes for people with HIV/AIDS in
     "This newest antiretroviral treatment clinic being dedicated Thursday
 was first established by NCHADS in January 2007 and is located in the
 compound of the Romeas Haek Referral Hospital, Romeas Haek Operational
 District in Svay Rieng Province," said Dr. Chhim Sarath, AIDS Healthcare
 Foundation's Country Program Manager for Cambodia. "The ART clinic is
 operating in a new building provided by UNICEF, and since January 2007, 56
 people living with HIV/AIDS have registered at the clinic. Among them, 26
 have already started on antiretroviral treatment, and we are honored to
 partner with NCHADS and the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of
 Cambodia to help bring treatment to many more Cambodians who may be in need
 of access to such lifesaving care and treatment."
     The partnerships were first formalized in March 2006 in a memorandum of
 understanding (MOU) between AHF and the Cambodian Ministry of Health, and
 in a letter of agreement (LOA) with AHF, the Ministry of Health, and the
 National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STI Control. Through these
 partnerships, AHF, the Cambodian Ministry of Health and NCHADS plan to work
 together on ART scale up in several Cambodian Provinces -- now including
 both Kandal and Svay Rieng Provinces -- with the goal of bringing 3,000
 people living with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia into treatment over the next five
 years. In mid-January of this year, a new clinic in the partnership also
 opened in Stung Treng Province.
     One key aspect contributing to the success of AHF's work with its
 partners in Cambodia includes the linkage of clinic services provided
 together with other community and home-based services. In addition, the
 Cambodian partnership focuses on integrating the delivery of services under
 a Continuum of Care (CoC) approach, an approach that recognizes the
 complexities surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to improve
 prevention efforts and optimize use of the oftentimes limited resources
 available in the successful care and treatment of those living with the
     Background on Svay Rieng Province
     Svay Rieng Province, one of 20 provinces in Cambodia, is located in the
 eastern part of Cambodia. Romeas Haek serves as one of the Operational
 Health Districts (OD). Svay Rieng is located about 122 kms from Phnom Penh,
 and the population of the surrounding area is around 525,472. The Province
 consists of three (3) Operational Districts and 32 Health Centers (HC). The
 Romeas Haek Operational District consists of one Referral Hospital and nine
 (9) individual Health Centers. Romeas Haek is in the northern part of Svay
 Rieng Province on the border with the country of Viet Nam.
     The objectives of this latest collaboration in Svay Rieng is similar to
 the partnerships' other projects in Kandal, Kampong Thom, Kampot and Stung
 Treng Provinces as well as in the capital of Phnom Penh, and are as
 enumerated as below:
     -- Capacity and skill building of the doctors and healthcare providers at
        the Romeas Haek Referral Hospital in collaboration with NCHADS.
     -- Establishment of an ART Clinic at the hospital and provision of free
        ART to PLHAs -- including treatment of both adults and children.
     The initial collaboration between AHF and these respected Cambodian
 institutions first began and were celebrated in March and April 2006 with
 formal ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the first two other free AIDS treatment
 facilities (Kampong Thom Province and Phnom Penh). The Phnom Penh facility
 is located at the Preah Ket Mealea Hospital, and that collaboration was
 also formalized in a separate MOU between AHF and the Preah Ket Mealea
 Hospital of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The goal of that facility is
 to bring medical care and ART to an additional 300 Cambodians.
     The first case of HIV infection in Cambodia was reported in 1991 and
 was followed by a rapid rise in its transmission. Cambodia's national
 HIV/AIDS prevalence rate -- around 3% in 1997 but decreasing to 1.9% in
 2003 -- is still understood to be one of the highest in Southeast Asia.
 According to a recent AFP/France 24 News Report (as cited on Kaiser Family
 Foundation's Daily HIV/AIDS Report), "Almost 10,000 Cambodians die of
 AIDS-related illnesses annually, according to government statistics. About
 1.9% of Cambodia's 13.8 million people are HIV-positive."
     "This growing collaboration between AHF and our esteemed Cambodian
 partners includes the delivery of innovative medical and non-medical
 interventions; providing technical support and training resources to
 increase and strengthen the diagnostic and treatment capacity and skills of
 HIV/AIDS and ART treatment services providers in Cambodia -- all of which
 will now also take place in Romeas Haek," said Henry E. Chang, AHF's Chief
 of Global Affairs. "AHF has significant expertise and experience in ART
 service delivery and skills and capacity building related to HIV/AIDS
 treatment and care, and we are therefore well-positioned to complement the
 Cambodian Ministry of Health in its efforts to enhance access to
 prevention, treatment and care at these facilities in Cambodia."
     "It is an honor for AHF to be associated with such a successful and
 practical ART program as in Cambodia, and I thank our partners at the
 Ministry of Health, Dr. Vun and his team at NCHADS, as well as our own
 dedicated staff at AHF's Asia Pacific Bureau for helping contribute to
 making greatly stepped-up treatment availability in Cambodia a reality
 which increases significantly as each new clinic opens," said Michael
 Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation