Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has issued a letter addressed to all municipal and provincial governors urging that all health departments ensure that medical facilities under their jurisdiction are staffed 24 hours per day.

The order came after a notorious case in which a woman delivered her baby outside Keo Phos Health Centre in Keo Phos commune of Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district on April 17. She went into labour and presented herself at the centre, only to find that there was no one on standby. A medical staff of seven, including the centre director, was disciplined for professional misconduct.

In his April 20 letter, Bun Heng said that although many health facilities across the country were doing a fantastic job in providing health services, there were still a small number that displayed clear shortcomings in their work.

He reminded them that all health facilities must have staff standing by around the clock and that a list of medical staff and their phone numbers must be posted at their facilities. These lists should also be sent to provincial health departments for review.

“I call on all governors to take responsibility for enforcing this instruction,” he said.

Se Chou Sithichot, deputy director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial health department, told The Post that the letter had been distributed to all health facilities in the province.

He said that next week, the health department will call staff from each health centre in the province to a meeting to make sure the instructions are clear.

“Soon after receiving this letter, I passed it to department officials and made sure that each of the 15 provincial health centres received a copy. Even if the minister had not ordered this, I would have spoken to my team, because it is our duty to provide healthcare services to the public,” he said.

With regard to last week’s incident, Sithichot said that the medical staff at the centre in question had been very busy the entire week. Unfortunately, a child of one of the staff on duty was ill, forcing him to leave early. This was compounded by a staff member on the next shift arriving late as he had been arranging an unspecified religious ceremony.