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Cambodia: Country Profile

Cambodia is among the least developed countries in the world. Two decades of wars and turmoil followed by international isolation have left their mark on Cambodia’s economic and social development. Cambodia has a per capita GNP of less than US$ 290 with one in three Cambodians living below the poverty line. The current population, estimated at over 13 million, is growing at 2.4 per cent per year. Levels of life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality are among the most challenging in Asia. Since the first case of HIV was identified in Cambodia in 1991, the epidemic has grown rapidly. In 2002, 2.6 per cent of the adult population were HIV positive. Heterosexual transmission accounts for the majority of the infections, other contributory factors being poverty, poor health status, labour migration and widespread patronage of sex workers.

However, with development efforts stepped up over the last decade and a gradually improving political and security climate, some encouraging progress has been made. Cambodia is a signatory to the ICPD Programme of Action. In 1995, the Government has adopted Birth Spacing and Safe Motherhood Policies, and in 1997, a nation-wide Safe Motherhood and Birth Spacing Project was launched with UNFPA’s assistance. There has been rapid progress in the uptake of birth spacing, with the rate of contraceptive use increasing from 6 per cent to 19 per cent since 1996. In 1995, in the light of the HIV epidemic, the Royal Government of Cambodia adopted a National Policy promoting 100 per cent condom use in commercial sex. Since then intensive efforts have been undertaken by the international community and the Government alike, to combat the epidemic. While the HIV prevalence rate is among the highest in Asia, Cambodia is one of only 3 countries in the world to have achieved a sustained decrease in HIV prevalence since 1997.


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