Minister of Health Chheang Ra has requested that the Phnom Penh and provincial governors to instruct local police forces monitor the Kingdom’s health facilities more closely, especially health centres and clinics in remote areas, in order to protect health workers, patients and their families.

Ra made the request in a May 14 letter to the governors.

The minister’s call followed a tragic incident in which a healthcare worker was shot dead by her partner at the Andoung Kraloeng health centre in Mondulkiri province’s Sen Monorom commune in Ou Reang district, on May 12.

Local police told media that the suspect, identified as Sokha Nuth, 41, used a Kalashnikov-style assault rifle to shoot his girlfriend Kem Keo Kanika, 38, killing her instantly and wounding her 6-year-old daughter. The victims lived at the health centre.

It was reported that the shooting followed a late night argument.

The health ministry a May 13 condolence letter to its social media on May 15, describing Keo Kanika as a valuable member of the Kingdom’s healthcare team, and mourning her loss.

Ra said his ministry promotes the provision of health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week in all health facilities, with a focus on primary health care at health centres and clinics, describing it as the foundation of future universal health coverage.

“To implement the safe village and commune policy more effectively, I would like the governors to provide further guidance to all local authorities, especially the police force in each commune throughout the country. They should conduct regular patrols of key locations around health facilities, especially those that are in remote areas. This will ensure that health workers, patients and their families are more comfortable during the day and at night,” Ra said.

The minister thanked the leaders and civil servants at all levels of the capital and provincial administrations and all local authorities who are responsible for the security and safety of the people in their localities.

Stung Treng provincial administration spokesman Men Kung told The Post that his province received the letter on May 14 and would convene a meeting of the provincial unified command to review a number of mechanisms to support and implement the minister’s request.

“There will be a meeting of the provincial unity command to carry out this work and several other important tasks,” he said on May 15. 

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace, said that taking care of the safety of health workers is a good thing, as it will make them more comfortable, confident and energetic in the performance of their duties.

“This move will bring satisfaction to health workers and officials. The fact that we provide security to them is a good thing, but we should also consider delivering more social protections to them, especially in terms of transport and incomes,” he noted.

“The salaries of those who live in remote areas should be reviewed, along with possible increases to their operating budgets. This will motivate them to continue their work to the fullest extent. This is an important thing,” Kim Eng told The Post on May 15.