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Failing medical students ask Hun Sen for help

Students participate in a medical simulation at the University of Health Sciences' new clinical skills and simulation laboratories earlier this year.
Students participate in a medical simulation at the University of Health Sciences' new clinical skills and simulation laboratories earlier this year. Hong Menea

Failing medical students ask Hun Sen for help

Fifty medical students from Phnom Penh’s Royal University of Health Science have posted on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page asking him to allow them to pass their exams despite having failed.

Some of the students had failed their clinical exams – required to advance in their medical degrees – two or three times and wanted the prime minister to waive the results, the comment posted on Monday said.

“We are always supporting the smart and good leadership of Samdech that brings development to Cambodia,” a student named Bun Samdath wrote. “We strongly hope that Samdech will intervene in the exam results, and we wish Samdech and his family all the best.”

The request was posted just a day after Dr Beat Richner – frustrated after scores of improperly treated children were brought to his Kantha Bopha hospitals on Saturday – said medical doctors at private clinics lacked the skills to provide adequate medical care, and requested that the Ministry of Health begin testing them.

In June, Hun Sen permitted 99 students who had passed written entrance exams but failed oral exams to enter medical school anyway. In January, the prime minister agreed to reduce the price of final exams for medical students seeking accreditation to practice medicine from $125 to $25 after students petitioned him on his Facebook page.

Experts say these concessions are weakening the already poor quality of Cambodia’s medical schools and the preparedness of new doctors leaving them.

“Many patients are misdiagnosed every day [in Cambodia] because of the poor quality of the medical schools,” said Dr Quach Mengley, a Cambodian-American doctor based in Cambodia. “Passing and failing an exam is no longer taken seriously due to [a lack of] transparency, and most of the students have to look for their own clinics or hospitals for training.”

Other health professionals agree that Cambodian medical students could benefit from gaining additional skills after their studies. “I think that doctors finishing medical school in Cambodia need to spend one to two years training in a foreign hospital,” said Dr Jean Claude Garen, a doctor at Phnom Penh’s Naga Clinic.

Representatives from the Royal University of Health Science could not be reached for comment. The prime minister had not yet responded to the students’ message yesterday.

Additional reporting by Kong Meta

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