63 Foreign-Owned Clinics Ignoring Gov’t License Order

Many of the 63 unlicensed foreign-owned medical and dental clinics in Phnom Penh remain open de­spite a June 2001 government directive ordering clinics to get licenses from the Ministry of Health or shut down, an official said Friday.

According to a recent list of figures from the Health Ministry, 589 of the 821 private clinics, cabinets and laboratories throughout the country are operating without a license from the government.

The Ministry of Health last year asked the Phnom Penh municipality to shut down all non-licensed medical and dental clinics because they had not complied with 1-year-old regulations, according to a letter from the Ministry of Health.

Health officials said inspectors from the Ministry of Health investigated many of the 63 unlicensed health clinics and discovered that a number of them needed to be closed because they are “incompetent” and have no “proper technical ability to continue treatment,” the letter stated.

Under the June regulations, private medical clinics must be owned by Cambodians, have at least 20 patient beds and a medical staff that is at least 80 percent Cambodian. Foreigners opera­ting these clinics must also present certificates approved by their embassies to the Health Ministry.

Some have speculated the regulations targeted Vietnamese and Chinese clinics practicing herbal and traditional remedies.

“We have been trying to regulate the private sector, not target the Vietnamese and Chinese clinics” said Minister of Health Dr Hong Sun Huot. “We implement these laws for the security and the health of the people.”

Among the list of unlicensed foreign-owned clinics were three owned by Westerners—The Eu­ro­­pean Dental Clinic, Inter­na­tional SOS and Naga Medical Cen­ter. Of­fic­ials from European Den­tal Clinic and Naga Medical Clinic said they have registered and received proper permits from the Ministry of Health. Brian Rit­ch­ie, an official with Inter­national SOS, declined to comment on whether the clinic has received a license or if the ministry has asked them for one.

(Additional reporting by Molly Ball)


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