UNDP Country Director's opening remarks at launching workshop of HIV-sensitive social protection report

Sep 19, 2013

Welcome Remarks

Launching of HIV-Sensitive Social Protection Report

Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director

Excellency Dr. Kao Try, Vice-Chair of National AIDS Authority,

Excellency Sim Khengkham, Vice-Chair of National AIDS Authority

Excellency​ Sok Silo, Deputy Secretary General of Council for Agricultural and Rural Development,

Ms. Marie-Odile Emond, Country Coordinator, UNAIDS

Mr. Sorn Sotheariddh, National Coordinator, Cambodian People Living with HIV/AIDS Network

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this launching of HIV-Sensitive Social Protection Report. This launching marks a turning point in the national response to supporting people living with HIV, and one which places Cambodia as a leader in the region in the area of HIV-sensitive social protection.

As Cambodia becomes a Middle Income Country, “inequality” becomes our concern. Social protection is one of the pillars of the five-year UN Development Assistance Framework in Cambodia, and a key priority for the UNDP.  

Social protection permeates every area of life and is particularly crucial for those living on the margins of society, or hovering near the poverty line. With poverty reduction and effective, responsive governance in mind, the UNDP is working to bolster social protection by supporting the design of policies and strategic frameworks, as well as the strengthening of institutions necessary for the establishment of an effective and inclusive social protection strategy in Cambodia. Our work in the areas of climate change resilience, gender empowerment, improving the rights of people with disabilities, human development and economic diversification also contribute to the reduction of socio-economic vulnerability of Cambodians in every strata of society. We place a particular focus on the country’s most poor and marginalized.

This national review of social protection in the context of HIV is another important step toward ensuring that Cambodia’s social protection scheme will leave no one behind. The review is a direct follow-up to the High Level Technical Consultation on HIV-Sensitive Social Protection for Impact Mitigation in Asia and the Pacific, which took place in Siem Reap in 2011.

HIV-sensitive social protection is also part of the national effort to operationalize Cambodia’s National Social Protection Strategy in which people living with HIV are clearly identified as a vulnerable group. The disproportionate socioeconomic challenges people living with HIV face were demonstrated in a study published by the UN and the Government of Cambodia a few years ago. Responding to these findings, Cambodia has taken action and initiated a national dialogue to pursue HIV-sensitive social protection.

HIV-sensitive social protection is a newly-emerging, innovative approach to social protection with special attention to the unique needs and circumstances of the most marginalized populations.  I welcome back all of you who were able to participate in the December 2012 meeting where the preliminary results of the HIV-sensitive review were shared, and I also welcome those of you who have engaged in the process between then and now.

I would particularly like to extend my thanks to the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, to the National AIDS Authority, and to the Cambodia Network of People Living with HIV, as well as the many government agencies, civil society organisations and development partners who are here today and have engaged so thoroughly in this process so far.  An HIV-sensitive social protection response demands a multi-sectoral approach and, as partners in this process, you have demonstrated your commitment and effectiveness through collaboration and cooperation.  Mechanisms such as the multi-sectoral working groups have been instrumental in achieving this. 

Cambodia has made extraordinary progress in its national social protection responses in the context of HIV. For example, Cambodia has achieved one of the highest levels of HIV treatment coverage among low and middle income countries across the world.

Cambodia’s current effort on HIV-sensitive social protection clearly signals to the world that the country continues to be a leader and pioneer in the global effort towards Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero AIDS-related Deaths. By systematically and strategically addressing the unique needs and circumstances of people living with and affected by HIV, HIV-sensitive social protection can also pave the way for greater protection of other highly-marginalized populations such as persons with disabilities, the elderly and ethnic minorities. The report of the UN Secretary General on MDGs, and the UN post-2015 development agenda calls on countries to pay “particular attention to the needs and rights of the most vulnerable and excluded”. Cambodia’s effort on HIV-sensitive social protection is a living example of how such inspiration can be translated into reality.  

Social protection is a strategy for investing in the poorest people in society.  HIV-sensitive social protection is a way for us to ensure that people living with HIV are part of that human investment; so they too can have reduced economic and social vulnerability, and enhanced status and rights.  Everyone here has an important role to play.

I look forward to the evolution of HIV-sensitive social protection in Cambodia and its positive outcomes for people living with and affected by HIV.

Thank you.