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Minister of Health demands action against unlicensed doctors

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The Svay Rieng provincial Department of Health holds an educational session open to the public about unlicensed doctors on Friday last week. Photo supplied

Minister of Health demands action against unlicensed doctors

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has issued an official letter instructing all directors of municipal and provincial health departments throughout the Kingdom act against businesses and individuals that offer medical treatment without legal permits.

The letter followed a number of deaths resulting from treatment and injections by unlicensed medical practitioners.

“The Ministry of Health has observed that there are still some individuals and businesses that provide medical treatment without legal permits, affecting people’s health, causing them to lose money and in some cases leading to the loss of life."

“To completely eliminate such illegal health services, all directors of municipal and provincial health departments shall prepare a lawsuit along with relevant documents [as evidence] to be sent to municipal and provincial courts against offenders operating under your respective jurisdiction,” said the letter dated May 27.

Earlier this month, provincial health department director Ke Ratha sent 393 unqualified medical practitioners to court for offering treatment and administering injections without legal permits in an “anarchic” manner.

In Tbong Khmum province, health department director Keo Vannak has sued 148 unlicensed medical practitioners, 17 of whom were summoned on May 26 for questioning while the rest have been made to appear at a later date.

Kampong Speu provincial health department director Or Vanthen on Thursday said the minister’s letter was merely a reminder to some inactive health officials.

“Maybe the minister has observed that some lower-level officials are less active with their duties while some tend to spring into action only when serious problems arise. So the minister simply sends us a reminder,” he said.

Vanthen pointed out that in his province, no villager has fallen victim to unlicensed medical practitioners who go around treating sick people in local communities.

Takeo provincial health department director Nuth Sinath said after receiving the minister’s letter, he had called a meeting of a joint committee to conduct inspections in each local community.

Sinath said his department has not lodged any complaints against businesses or individuals that offer treatment and injections without legal permits. To prevent villagers falling victim, he said the department will strictly enforce the minister’s order.

“Previously, when they did business in areas under my jurisdiction without authorisation, we only made them sign a contract promising to halt their activities."

“But now that the ministry has issued such an order, I will convene a meeting of the joint committee again to ensure effective implementation. This time, we will send anyone found to have repeated their offences to court.”

Rights group Adhoc spokesperson Soeng Sen Karuna urged the government to take tougher measures in a transparent manner and on a permanent basis.

“We have seen some people falling victim to unprofessional medical practitioners who go around treating people in local communities irresponsibly."

“Previously in Battambang province, an unlicensed medical practitioner spread HIV through his injections to nearly all villagers in the community. It is very dangerous."

“The [ministry] must enforce legal procedures transparently from the beginning without discrimination,” he said.

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