Decentralisation took a small but very important step forward in Cambodia on Tuesday 7th October with the formal launch of the Local Development and Decentralised Health Services project (LDDHS).
Cambodia’s National Programme for Sub-national Democratic Development began in 2011 with transfer of service delivery functions to the District Councils as one of the main planks in its strategy. Appropriate laws and regulations have been enacted but progress in identifying functions to transfer has been slow. Under LDDHS and supported by a grant from Government of Australia through UNCDF, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development have agreed on an initial set of community health functions that will be assigned to the Councils on a pilot basis in five Districts. The Councils will receive a Performance Based Grant to finance implementation of an initial work plan and performance will be measured by a team from the University of Battambang.
The formal launch was chaired by Excellency Sak Setha, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and Head of NCDD-S, and attended by high officials from Ministry of Health, including H.E. Mr. Te Kuy Seang, Secretary of State, from Ministry of Economy and Finance, including H.E. Dr. Dy Sovann, Deputy Director General, deputy provincial governors of Pursat and Battambang, governors of and representatives of health operating districts and health centers of the five participating Districts. After a first meeting of the Project Board, the Governors signed MOU for the management and use of the grants. From now until the end of 2015, the Districts will take over responsibility for supporting community health structures, maintenance of local clinics (Commune Health Centres) and incentives for clinic staff to provide community outreach services such as village vaccination campaigns.
Commenting on the successful launch, Excellency Ngan Chamroeun, Under-Secretary of State of Ministry of Interior and Deputy Head of NCDD-S, emphasized the need and commitment to look beyond the initial test phase to a more widespread roll-out which would be financed from transferring existing State Budget resources to the Districts. The health sector initiative under LDDHS is setting up the ground for further roll-out and similar undertakings to take place in additional four (4) priority Ministries In Cambodia. UNCDF role includes assistance for design of the roll-out phase. The representatives of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economy and Finance expressed their strong commitment to undertaken initiative with H.E. Mr. Te Kuy Seang of the Ministry of Health announcing that the required legal instrument (Prakas) would be presented to the Minister of Health for signature the following day. On behalf of development partners the representative of World Bank expressed support for the initiative and emphasized the need to ensure good coordination with the general health sector support which is financed through a funding facility managed by the Bank.