Preah Vihear provincial authorities are looking to shut down more than 20 medical clinics found to have operated without a licence and sold expired medicines to patients in Choam Ksan district.
District governor Chea Kimseng told The Post on Thursday that the authorities had initially shuttered six of the unlicensed clinics in the district’s Kantuot and Sra Em communes after separate raids and inspection.
The clinics, he said, had continued to treat and sell unauthorised and expired medicines to patients despite repeated warnings.
“Before shuttering them, we had repeatedly warned them against continuing their operations because it could cause dangers for residents, but they didn’t heed our instructions,” he said.
During the raid, the authorities seized 46 items of expired medicines. Kimseng said officials were continuing to inspect 20 other unlicensed clinics.
“During the inspection, we found that most of the medicines they had been using had already expired."
“We have not decided on a fine and have only made them sign an agreement promising to stop setting up a clinic without a permit. But if they protest, we will refer the case to court following legal procedures,” he said.
Preah Vihear provincial Department of Health director Koung Lo said the department will continue its pursuit of unlicensed clinics.
“We will continuously inspect private clinics in all districts and will shut down clinics that treat and sell medicines to patients without authorisation,” he said, adding that failure to comply will result in legal action.
Lo did not have specific data on hand when asked to provide an exact figure of unlicensed clinics in the province.
“We keep the data at our hospital. So far we have closed such unlicensed clinics in some districts including Choam Ksan and Sangkum Thmei."
“Some [clinic owners] even filed a complaint against us in court. We have also closed such unlicensed facilities in Preah Vihear town and Kulen district, where private clinics are abundant,” he said.
Lor Chan, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, welcomed the authorities’ closure of unlicensed clinics. He said such facilities had caused harm in localities.
“The authorities halted their operations because they could adversely affect public health through expired medicines. Private clinics also have a role to play in offering primary care to disease-stricken locals before they could get more intensive care at [state-run] health centres,” he said.
Lo Veasnakiry, the director of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Planning and Health Information, declined to comment on Thursday, saying he did not take part in the operation.
Ministry of Health spokespersons York Sambath and Or Vandin could not be reached on Thursday.