The minister of health once again urged his subordinates and local authorities yesterday to shut down the country’s unlicensed clinics and doctors to prevent another HIV outbreak.
Speaking at an annual meeting of health officials at Phnom Penh’s Sofitel Hotel, Minister Mam Bunheng lauded the “remarkable results” achieved in many areas of health care, but said illegal medical practices still needed to be curbed.
“We have to check on the outlaw health service providers, both doctors and pharmacies. Some people run this kind of business, but they try to operate outside of our [health] system,” he said.
“We have to eliminate those illegal local health service providers, since we don’t want this problem to occur again,” he added, referring to the mass outbreak of HIV in Battambang province’s Roka commune, which has been attributed to tainted needles.
The unlicensed doctor allegedly at the centre of the outbreak was charged with murder in late December.
An annual report from the Health Ministry shows a major rise in private clinics in recent years, with 3,755 in 2009 compared to 5,757 in 2014.
Dr Dong Il An, who attended yesterday’s meeting, said the HIV outbreak was a “wake-up call” for the government, which has since shown a real commitment to eradicating unlawful clinics.
Yesterday’s meeting “shows the government’s determination in solving those problems”, he said.