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SIEM REAP, Cambodia-Chan Rasmey, a 6-month-old girl, was the first child to be vaccinated in Cambodia under The Vaccine Fund, a $1.8 billion initiative to prevent illnesses in poor countries.
The project is predominately funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Cambodia is the second country where the vaccine program has begun. Work began in Mozambique in April.
Under the shadow of the Angkor Wat temple, 30 young Cambodian mothers lined up with their children. As they waited for an injection to prevent the potentially fatal hepatitis B-diphtheria virus, UNICEF director Carol Bellamy, Rep Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz, and representatives from the Gate's foundation and the Cambodian government gathered.
The Cambodian Health Minister said the government will use $296,000 pledged by the fund specifically for Cambodia to inoculate 96,000 children. Most of these children live in the central province of Kampong Chhnang where more than 10% of the population lives with hepatitis B.
The virus attacks the liver and is one of the leading causes of liver cancer. Some experts estimate more than 10% of the general Cambodian population is sick with this disease.
Cambodia, one of the 10 poorest countries globally, 64% of children receive immunizations. More than 8% of children do not live to see their first birthday.
Information from www.washingtonpost.com