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Land swap fears at hospital

Staff from the Phnom Penh Referral hospital and the Prampi Makara district health centre
Staff from the Phnom Penh Referral hospital and the Prampi Makara district health centre hold placards during a protest in Phnom Penh earlier last year. Vireak Mai

Land swap fears at hospital

More than 100 staff members of the Phnom Penh Referral Hospital and 7 Makara Health Care Center met the capital’s health director yesterday to discuss concerns about a land swap after a recent announcement that part of the hospitals lost their land title.

The meeting came after about 300 medical staffers filed a complaint to the National Assembly’s commission on investigation and anti-corruption last February 6 about a Phnom Penh Department of Land Management announcement made public a day earlier that the government had lost ownership of the two buildings that comprise the front of both hospitals.

The announcement did not clarify who currently owns the two buildings and whether there are plans to get a new land title, which prompted the staffers to ask the assembly to investigate possible irregularities in the exchange.

“The hospital director did not explain directly. He did not appease us . . . or guarantee that the hospital would not be exchanged,” said Dr Oung Mesa, who was one of the complainants. “We need a joint land title for both the front and the back of the hospitals, but he did not clarify with us.”

Apart from the two buildings in question, there is another building in back that makes up the Phnom Penh Referral Hospital and 7 Makara Health Care Center hospital complex.

Due to the announcement, the staffers are also worried that the possible land swap will force them to move to the building in back, which, they said, had inadequate facilities to answer the demand of three medical facilities.

In an interview following his meeting with the concerned staffers, Phnom Penh Department of Health director Dr Sok Sokum declined to answer questions regarding whether the public facility will have new private owners.

“I, or any health officials, cannot [deal with these concerns]. Our task is to follow the code of ethics of physicians and apply to the statutes of civil servants, which is enough,” he said.

In response to the complaint, the National Assembly anti-corruption commission has sent a letter to the Ministry of Health asking Health Minister Mam Bunheng to clarify information and provide documents related to the possible land swap of the two front buildings.

“I have written to the Minister of Health on February 13 to respond to the commission as soon as possible,” said anti-corruption commission president Ho Vann.

The ministry has yet to reply, but according to Vann, if they fail to send a response, he would summons Minister Bunheng to parliament to clarify other hospital land swaps in Phnom Penh, which he said “could have irregularities leading to corruption”.

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