The Tbong Khmum provincial court on Monday summoned the first 17 medical practitioners, out of a total of 148, for questioning over allegations they were operating without permission from the provincial health department or the Ministry of Health.
The remaining 131 have been summoned for questioning at a later date.
A letter dated Friday and obtained by The Post on Monday said provincial deputy prosecutor Hak Siek Lim had ordered O’Reang-ou executive health office chief Horn Chin Heat to the court on Monday at 2pm to attend a hearing against 17 medical practitioners accused of “illegally operating a private health service” in O’Reang-ou district between 1979 and 2017.
Provincial health department director Keo Vannak said on Monday that the court had sued 148 doctors since 2017 and had been summoning them since then. However, he did not know how many of them had already appeared for questioning.
“There are many medical practitioners in village and district health centres in the province and those [unlicensed] doctors need to be trained [to work as doctors]."
“If they want the job, they need to fulfil the legal conditions,” Vannak said, adding that they are required to have a certificate and permission from the relevant authorities.
He said no one had died due to unprofessional treatment in the province, but stressed that some medicines may have a lasting impact on people’s health and the people involved had not been punished.
Provincial court spokesman Theng Cheang could not be reached on Monday while provincial deputy prosecutor Siek Lim declined to comment.
No contact details were available for any of the 17 accused and neither Ministry of Health spokespersons Or Vandin nor Ly Sovann were available to provide further details.
Leng Senhan, an investigator for rights group Adhoc in Tbong Khmum province, said he supported the move because, in the past, several residents had suffered at the hands of untrained doctors in villages, but no one had been punished.
“I would like to encourage all doctors to continue their studies and get a degree or the knowledge necessary to work and provide basic services. Older doctors without proper licenses or certificates should stop practising,” Senhan said.
The provincial Department of Health wrote on its official Facebook page on Monday: “Unlicensed doctors who have been practising health services, please stop immediately. The department will continue to take action until all illicit health practitioners have ceased to operate.”
On Sunday, Svay Rieng provincial Health Department director Ke Rotha announced legal action against 393 unlicensed medical practitioners for providing health services without permission.
Rotha said unlicensed “doctors” have caused the deaths of up to seven people in Svay Rieng province over the past five years.