Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kantha Bopha founder censures private clinics




Kantha Bopha founder censures private clinics

Mothers hold their sick children outside the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon.
Mothers hold their sick children outside the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon. Hong Menea

Kantha Bopha founder censures private clinics

Doctors at Cambodia’s hundreds of private clinics should undergo government-mandated testing to prove they are qualified and have their practices shuttered if it is found they are not, Dr Beat Richner, founder of the Kantha Bopha hospitals, has said in an open letter.

Richner posted the missive on his Facebook page on Sunday after 447 severely ill children were hospitalised on Saturday. One hundred forty-six of the most severe cases of dengue fever and encephalitis had been transferred to the Kantha Bopha network of children’s hospitals from private clinics the day before.

Richner said private clinics in Cambodia lack the professionalism, knowledge and resources to adequately diagnose and care for children, something crucial in a disease’s early stages.

“On the night from Saturday to Sunday about 55% of children hospitalized at Kantha Bopha in Phnom Penh and at Kantha Bopha III in Siem Reap Angkor had been incorrectly treated without any diagnosis,” Richner told the Post via email yesterday.

“Sometimes there are a lot of cases of severe encephalitis, meningitis, or dengue, but the outcome of the illness depends on how much time passes between the first symptoms and getting the right treatment,” he added.

Richner sounded a similar alarm in 2012 amid a deadly breakout of what the WHO ultimately diagnosed as a form of hand, foot and mouth disease, which claimed the lives of 64 children.

At the time, the Swiss physician publicly said he believed many of those lives would have been saved had they not received incorrect treatment at private clinics before being taken too late to one of the Kantha Bopha hospitals.

Other health professionals spoken to by the Post yesterday agreed that health care in Cambodia’s private clinics is routinely subpar.

A mother holds her child yesterday afternoon as she waits to see a doctor at Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital.
A mother holds her child yesterday afternoon as she waits to see a doctor at Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital. Hong Menea

“The private clinics are working only to get money, they aren’t following national or WHO [World Health Organization] guidelines,” said a community health worker in a children’s health organisation who asked to remain anonymous.

“For example, when kids get diarrhoea, it can be treated through oral rehydration. But if you go to the private clinic they usually get an IV and antibiotics, which is unnecessary and costs more money,” they said, referencing a widespread overuse of antibiotics in the Kingdom.

In his letter on Saturday, Richner noted that patients are often kept too long at clinics for no reason other than to milk them for fees.

But some private health care practitioners yesterday said it was unfair to presume all private clinics were offering poor-quality services.

“It depends on which clinic you go to. People can come in the clinic and judge whether the standards are where they should be,” said Dr Som Leakhena, medical director of the Khema International Polyclinic in Phnom Penh.

“Before we open a clinic, we need to get permission from the Ministry of Health, and they have certain criteria that we have to follow,” he said, rattling off a checklist that included x-ray and laboratory facilities as well as the required presence of a doctor at all times.

Even so, he admitted that those requirements were more likely to be met in the Kingdom’s larger cities. “I’m not sure how well the clinics in the provinces meet the criteria, but in the cities, it’s followed.”

Attempts to reach a spokesman for the Ministry of Health were unsuccessful yesterday.

Richner, however, who was named an adviser to the ministry in March, says that he is confident they will follow his recommendations.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,