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Cambodia's Victim Zero: Global and National Responses to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Sophal Ear

Occidental College

April 16, 2009

STEPS Working Paper No. 16

Cambodia’s experience with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) since the disease was discovered on a farm outside Phnom Penh in January 2004 reveals important aspects of how a developing country with limited resources and capabilities has responded to a crisis that has global public health implications and, vice-versa, how this global response in turn affected Cambodia. Augmented by a survey sent to individuals deeply involved in HPAI work in Cambodia, this study uses a qualitative research methodology consisting of mostly one-on-one semi-structured interviews across government, the private sector, and the non-governmental sector. Measures have been taken to cope with HPAI such as public awareness campaign ‘Super Moan’ (Super Chicken) and Pandemic Preparedness; border control over the movement of poultry with neighboring countries, particularly Vietnam and Thailand; culling of poultry; and case-based secret compensation. The study provides a background to Cambodian political and modern history, sets the context of aid dependence and tourism, and presents the livestock sector and poultry sub-sector in particular. It then proceeds in three parts, from beginning, middle, to end to show how HPAI evolved, providing a narrative time line of the key policy moments/phases between the first outbreak and to date (December 2008). Three narratives are explored: (1) culling without compensation; (2) the shift to health; and (3) the role of poverty and livelihoods. The study then discusses three key themes that define the political economy of the policy process. These are: (a) Donors and NGOs; (b) Beyond Aid: Other Sources of Revenue and the Importance of Tourism; and (c) Media Spin. The overall analysis of the political economy of HPAI in Cambodia reveals key challenges, obstacles and opportunities for responding to HPAI - and potentially other global epidemics.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 104

Keywords: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Cambodia, Political Economy

JEL Classification: P26, P32, P33

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Date posted: April 17, 2009 ; Last revised: May 10, 2009

Suggested Citation

Ear, Sophal, Cambodia's Victim Zero: Global and National Responses to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (April 16, 2009). STEPS Working Paper No. 16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1388243 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1388243

Contact Information

Sophal Ear (Contact Author)
Occidental College ( email )
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
United States
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