Cambodia: Country Profile
is among the least developed countries in the world. Two decades of wars
and turmoil followed by international isolation have left their mark on
Cambodias 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 UNFPAs 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.