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Dental orgs turn to PM over unpopular prakas

A dentist and his assistant work on a patient’s teeth at a clinic in central Phnom Penh last year.
A dentist and his assistant work on a patient’s teeth at a clinic in central Phnom Penh last year. Charlotte Pert

Dental orgs turn to PM over unpopular prakas

After yet another fruitless meeting between dental organisations and the Ministry of Health over a controversial prakas allowing dental nurses to open their own clinics, dentists continued to protest on social media and have asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene and reverse the directive.

Experts have said that allowing dental nurses, who have far less training than full-fledged dentists, to open their own clinics could cause a crisis and lead to substandard care, with some pointing to the fact that the ministry is still unable get a grip on the proliferation of unqualified traditional dentists that practise across the country.

The meeting on Friday was to amend the scope of what procedures dental nurses would be allowed to perform, but dental organisations want to do away with the prakas entirely, said Dr Solita Yam, of the Cambodian Dental Association.

Several dentists have changed their Facebook profile photos to one that says “We don’t want Dental Nurses to Run a Private Practice in Cambodia”, and some have asked the premier for help on his own Facebook page.

“They think that only Samdech [Hun Sen] can help,” Yam said. “They lost hope with the Ministry of Health.” Dr Hak Sithan, head of the oral health office at the ministry’s department of preventive medicine, said officials are still studying the issue.

“We have to try to solve the problem,” he said, declining to comment further.

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