Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Health Ministry calls for end to on-duty carousing

Health Ministry calls for end to on-duty carousing

Health Ministry calls for end to on-duty carousing

The Ministry of Health has issued a warning to provincial bosses, telling them to guarantee that staff members are not drinking and gambling on the job because it can “affect” the provision of care and emergency services for patients.

In a letter dated October 22, Health Minister Mam Bunheng called on all city and province health department directors to deal with the “small number” of hospital staff who are consuming alcohol and playing cards during working and standby hours.

“The Ministry strictly prohibits these improper acts,” the letter says. “[Staff] should be using their free time to do research into the medical field on the internet, or use their time to enhance the quality of the health service.”

Ministry of Health officials Ly Sovann and Chhit Sophal could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ratanakkiri Provincial Health Department director Oung Rattanak yesterday said he had received the letter and would share its recommendations with those directly responsible to him, but suggested his province did not have a problem with such behaviour.

“For my local institutions, none of the staff consume alcohol or play games during work time, but we will share this news in order to remind them to maintain their professionalism,” he said.

San Chey, coordinator of the Affiliated Network For Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP), an NGO focused on government accountability, welcomed the letter.

According to Chey, it is long overdue, with persistent reports of such behaviour within the health service stretching back over many years.

“Medics forgetting their duties to play games and bet on [things like] boxing during work time while patients are arriving at their facility is a problem,” he said. “We have observed them paying more attention more to the money than to providing treatment and it has been an ongoing source of criticism [of the health-care sector],” he said.

Chey called for the Health Ministry to reinforce the process for members of the public to raise their concerns about such activity with a standardised complaints process, as well as saying health workers’ salaries should be raised to improve their performance.

Cambodia’s health-care system is notorious for falling far below international standards. In a ranking of global healthcare systems published in 2000 by the World Health Organization, Cambodia was listed number 174 among 190 nations.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’