Subscribe Search

Search form

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


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Hun Sen says Montagnards don’t exist in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen once again attacked ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy for pledging “autonomy” to Montagnards, claiming – seemingly incorrectly – the ethnic minority does not exist in Cambodia. “We respect all minorities such as Jarai, Steang, Phnong, but we have never had Montagnards,” the premier said