Border-Camp Nurses Reject Training Initiative

Several former resistance-allied refugees who received medical training in camps on the Thai border prior to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements said this week that they have rejected offers of training by the Ministry of Health, saying they already received full credentials through the camps.

In November the Health Min­istry ordered all refugee camp-trained medical assistants to un­der­go one year of training and nurses to undergo six months of training in order to receive full salaries and positions.

Currently, the workers report they receive $6.25 a month for working at public health centers under the title of administrators, rather than about $25 due to them as medical professionals.

Yem Vanna Heng, 39, a medical assistant working in Battambang province, said Monday that he and about 30 of his friends refused additional training because their qualifications were recognized by the UN after training in the camps.

Sok Sarin, 43, a Phnom Penh nurse, agreed Monday, saying he has already worked for 10 years. “I don’t need additional training be­­cause I have already been qualified,” he said.

Health Minister Nuth Sokhom dis­agreed. “They need additional training so that they can be suitable,” he said Monday.

Some of the medical workers also accused ministry officials of demanding bribes for application forms for the training.

Although application forms cost $1.25 for the courses, Sok Sarin said he was charged $2.50 for one by a corrupt official in Kom­­­pong Cham province.

Nuth Sokhom acknowledged there had been instances of bribe-taking connected to the forms and said he will investigate.

Chea Chhay, undersecretary of state at the Health Ministry, said Monday that some 400 health workers trained in the border camps have applied for training.

Training for nurses will be conducted soon in Battambang and Kompong Cham and in Phnom Penh for medical assistants.                                     Although training will be free of charge, living expenses and travel will not be paid by the government, he said.



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