Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foreign-trained doctors barred from government employment

Foreign-trained doctors barred from government employment

Foreign-trained doctors barred from government employment

Two dozen recently graduated Cambodian specialised doctors who obtained their degrees abroad are contesting the Ministry of Health’s decision to bar them from working as full-time government employees on the grounds that their degrees are not equivalent to domestic medical degrees.

Sreng Houng, who said he received his ophthalmologist degree in Vietnam, yesterday asked Prime Minister Hun Sen on his Facebook page to intervene. In his post, Houng said the 24 students had received scholarships from the Ministry of Education 10 years ago to pursue medical degrees in various countries, such as Vietnam, China, Malaysia and the US, and had obtained specialisations including gynaecology, oncology and surgery.

“We are very . . . disappointed,” he said. “We have struggled and have overcome many tests . . . and we have spent 10 years of studies.”

Hun Sen replied to Houng’s post by saying he had forwarded the request to Health Minister Mam Bunheng for review, but hours later, the response was deleted.

While the students were educated abroad, the quality of Cambodian-trained health professionals is very much a subject of debate, and Cambodian doctors’ skills and ethics have come under repeated fire in recent months.

Cambodian-American doctor Mengly Quach – himself a vocal critic of the Kingdom’s health-care sector – yesterday questioned why the government would have sent the students abroad if it wouldn’t later accept their degrees. While he acknowledged that testing applicants’ abilities was important, he also noted that Cambodia has an “extreme shortage of health providers”.

Chheng Kannarath, deputy secretary-general at the Medical Council of Cambodia, said Cambodian students who graduate overseas are required to submit a diploma to the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Health to assess its equivalency.

Health Minister Bunheng didn’t respond to requests for comment as to whether the applicants’ degrees had been assessed, and ministry spokesman Ly Sovann would only say that the ministry “recruits all health professionals who fulfil the degree because health is a business that needs real skills”.

Houng claims the ministry on August 1 said their degrees were not equivalent because they had not been educated based on the French system.

Mengly, however, said it would be “very out of line” if students had been told that because medical education is a “universal language”.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen invites US president to attend summit in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen personally invited US President Joe Biden to attend the ASEAN-US Summit which is set to be held in Cambodia in November, as ASEAN and the US are expected to upgrade their strategic partnership to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, according to Prime

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub