Ministry of Health secretary of state Thea Kruy urges midwives across the country to adhere to their professional ethics to guarantee the safety of their patients.

Kruy made the call as he answered journalists’ questions about the profession at a December 5 workshop on the regulatory standards of midwifery.

The discussion arose after a midwife in Kampong Speu province recently committed “serious” professional misconduct, almost causing the death of a patient.

He said a midwife's role is to care for mothers and newborns to guarantee that they are safe and healthy.

“The work of a midwife is not easy. Midwives must be fit and understand their skill, and also their limitations. They must exercise due care at all times, just in case a problem arises. If a situation is beyond their capacity, they must refer their patient to a better-equipped facility. They should not attempt to solve complex medical issues on their own,” he added.

“Midwifery should not be viewed as a business – they must consider the interests of their patients at all times. Midwives are not businesspeople – they are the ones who provide necessary services to mothers and newborns,” he continued.

The Cambodian Midwives Council (CMC) held the workshop to strengthen the professional skills of its members. All midwives who work in the Kingdom must register with the CMC.

It said the registration of midwives is important for protecting members of the public. Registration ensures that midwives are qualified and understand their ethical obligations. Registration lasts for three years and must be renewed once it expires.

“We can assure the public that all registered midwives provide quality care for mothers and newborns. They work in accordance with national policies and protocols, as well as the international standards of professional midwifery practices,” the CMC stated.

On November 30, privately-owned Deum Angkrang clinic allowed an untrained midwife to perform an abortion to remove a stillborn baby. During the operation, the midwife mistakenly cut the intestine of the mother, seriously injuring her. The patient is now recovering at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh.

In the wake of the incident, the health ministry took action, temporarily closing the clinic amid an ongoing investigation and suspending the midwife from work for two years. The ministry is covering the costs of treatment for the victim.

Some observers claim that professional midwifery practices in Cambodia were still lacking, with some members of the public and civil society organisations criticising the lack of care for expectant mothers.

Some organisations have raised questions reforms of the healthcare system, suggesting that wealthy individuals travel abroad for treatment as they do not have faith in domestic doctors.