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Health Ministry announces free rides for traffic accident victims

Garment workers wait in an ambulance following a traffic accident in Kampong Speu earlier this year.
Garment workers wait in an ambulance following a traffic accident in Kampong Speu earlier this year. Hong Menea

Health Ministry announces free rides for traffic accident victims

Three days after the Ministry of Health scrapped ambulance fees for transporting deceased patients it has announced that people hurt in traffic accidents will also no longer have to pay.

In a statement released yesterday, the ministry said the government would now cover those costs.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng could not be reached for comment yesterday, and ministry spokesman Ly Sovann declined to comment.

San Chey, executive director for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, welcomed the change, but said the government should review the free service to ensure it did not compromise the availability and response times of ambulances.

“We want them to be available all the time,” he said.

The ministry has yet to say what sparked the decision to scrap fees for transporting the bodies of deceased patients, or explained how it will fund it.

Chey said the decision might be linked to a recent scandal involving the brief impounding of an unregistered ambulance belonging to radio station ABC. After ABC claimed that it used the vehicle for humanitarian purposes, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the ambulance’s release and swiftly sacked Phnom Penh’s top health official.

Additional reporting by Bun Sengkong

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