During the first week of May, Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) Senior Program Officers Devendra Gnawali and Mariya Savchuk were in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where they met with  counterparts working on immunization financing issues and organized Sabin’s fifth SIF briefing in that country.

Local WHO, UNICEF, World Bank and Rotary representatives attended the briefing alongside Cambodian national officials. Meetings were held with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance officials as well as parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from the National Assembly. Discussions focused on the National Immunization Program (NIP) and a new immunization law that Cambodia is elaborating to assure the program is sustainably financed.

The Sabin-assisted briefing, on 8-9 May, brought together representatives from the NIP, the legal and budget departments of the Ministry of Health, the planning and policy department of the Ministry of Finance, as well as 4 representatives of the immunization Program from the provinces. Representing the NIP, Dr. Chheng Morn set the stage with an overview of recent immunization trends. Sabin’s Savchuk summarized SIF Program activities in other countries and outlined the best legal drafting practices observed in the SIF countries to date.  

Another Asian SIF country preparing such legislation is Nepal.  Mr Komal Prasad Acharya, Under-Secretary from the legal department of the Nepali Ministry of Health, described the step by step process his country is following to enact the new legislation. The Cambodian counterparts then rolled up their sleeves and prepared a first draft of the Cambodian Immunization Law, which includes a chapter on how the government will finance the NIP.

The next day, the Cambodian participants, led by the Head of the Ministry of Health Legal Department, Mr Hok Khiev, presented the draft law to several parliamentarians, who reviewed the document and made several amendments that were integrated into the draft law. Hon Ouk Damry and Mr. Uy Visal took the lead role from the National Assembly of Cambodia.

The draft law will be further revised by other relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Education, and other stakeholders and partners in Cambodia. The Ministry of Health hopes to have a finalized draft of the law ready for presentation at the Second SIF Colloquium, to be held in Dakar, Senegal, on 5-6 August 2013.

From left to right: Mr Hok Khiev, Head of the legal department of MOH, Excellency, Mr Ouk Damry, MP, Member of the Legislation and Justice Commission of the National Assembly of Cambodia, and Excellency Professor Sann Chan Soeung, MD, Head of the National Immunization Program of Cambodia and Advisor to the Minister of Health.