The provincial Health Department in Ratanakkiri province has summonsed an unlicensed doctor in Banlung town’s Laban Siek commune after residents there learned of an HIV outbreak in Battambang province that has been linked to a similarly unlicensed medical practitioner.
Authorities are threatening legal action against Kang Sun Heang if he doesn’t respond to the summons and sign a contract promising he will shut down his medical business immediately.
Residents in Laban Siek, where Sun Heang supplemented his income as a teacher by giving injections and other services, complained to the provincial Health Department, which had previously summonsed him in February in an attempt to shut his clinic down.
“If he still flouts the contract, we will hand him over to court,” said Ung Ratana, provincial Health Department director.
Sun Heang said in a phone interview that he had received medical training in the military.
“I have injected patients in the villages since 2014 and no one has had any problems. I treat them after teaching because of my destitute livelihood,” he said, adding that he would meet with provincial officials.
Meanwhile, villagers are terrified that they may have contracted HIV, like the more than 119 people in Battambang’s Roka commune who tested positive in the past week. Though an investigation into the case is ongoing, police have charged a local doctor, who received training in Thai refugee camps, with murder after it was revealed that he allegedly reused needles on patients.
“We are worried like the case in Battambang, because we do not know which doctors are professional or unlicensed, so previously we just follow suit,” said 50-year-old resident Chhen Saroeun.
Ratana of the provincial Health Department sought to allay fears of an outbreak, and pointed to a recent blood test campaign in Ratanakkiri province that showed rates decreasing.
However, Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said “four to five people” with AIDS, the disease caused by HIV, died due to mistreatment from unlicensed doctors.