News

Two UNFPA Goodwill Ambassadors Talk to Young Generation

26 June 2002
Author: UNFPA

In Cambodia HIV is spreading at an alarming rate, especially among young people between the ages of 15 and 35. The epidemic is seriously affecting the health, socio-economic development and living standards of the Cambodian people, according to a report by Khieu Kola, a Cambodian journalist.

He reported that these complicated problems facing young people in Cambodia were highlighted when UNFPA Goodwill Ambassadors, Yuko Arimori of Japan and Chea Samnang of Cambodia, met in Phnom Penh in February 2002. Ms. Arimori, an Olympic medallist and one of Japan's most famous athletes, visited Cambodia as part of an advocacy initiative.

UNFPA Rep. in Cambodia, Yoshiko Zenda, welcomes Ms. Arimori. Right: Kiyoko Ikegami, Director, Planning and Development Division of the Japanese Organization for Int'l Cooperation in Family Planning.  Photo: UNFPA Cambodia Office.

Dr. Samnang, a popular singer and actor explained to his counterpart that HIV/AIDS has been dubbed Cambodia's "second killing fields,", according to the reporter. He cited Dr. Samnang as stating, "HIV/AIDS in Cambodia is the highest rate among the Asian countries. We want the youth to recognize the seriousness of the problem."

Dr. Samnang stated, according to the reporter, that young people's sexual behaviour in Cambodia had also changed. "Many Cambodian youths ignore strict traditional customs and have sex before they marry," he cited Dr. Samnang as saying. "It is very good if the younger generation can follow tradition." However, he added, if they decided to be sexually active before marriage, they should be sure to protect themselves.

The Cambodian reporter wrote that Dr. Samnang recalled a day he had spent at a youth camp organized by non-governmental organizations as part of the EC/UNFPA Youth Reproductive Health Programme. Dr. Samnang, he reported, spoke to the audience about the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the need to use condoms. Later, the Cambodia-based Goodwill Ambassador told Ms. Arimori that he would like to see more such events, which attract the interest of young Cambodians, to help them understand better how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.

According to the reporter, Ms. Arimori asked Dr. Samnang to send a message on the issue to young Japanese men. Dr. Samnang, the reporter wrote, asked the young men to think about their future. While they might consider themselves the same as the person next to them today, each one of them had the potential to become Prime Minister of Japan. They should, therefore, save their lives by protecting themselves at all times.

--Adam Stern

Contact Information:

William A. Ryan
Tel.: +66 2 288 2446
Email: ryanw@unfpa.org

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