Christie Supporters To Petition To Reopen Clinic

Friends and former patients of Aus­­tralian Gloria Christie, whose Phnom Penh Surya Medical Ser­vices clinic was shut down last week for operating without a Min­istry of Health license, have form­ed a com­mit­tee to defend the wo­man they call “Dr Gloria.”

Saying they represent hundreds of Christie loyalists, the ex­patriate pa­­­­tients said Tuesday that they are gath­ering signatures to petition the Ministry of Health to reopen the shu­t­­tered clinic.

“Whether she has a license or medical degree is irrelevant, she is a natural healer,” committee member Nancy O’Hara said. “We cannot believe Surya is closed.”

O’Hara, a retired American, said she accompanied Christie to Bang­­kok last week for treatment for liver problems. She said Chris­tie de­serves a medal for her un­paid work with poor Cambo­dians.

“She is the only doctor my kids have ever known,” she said, add­ing that she does not know or care whether Christie has a medical doc­torate.

The Health Ministry said Mon­day that Christie has yet to provide proof that she is a medical doctor.

The committee members said they will seek signatures Sun­day evening at the Foreign Cor­re­spon­dents Club for their petition.

Committee member Michele Gilkes, a British writer, said Chris­tie loy­alists would like to see Su­rya re­opened, even if it turns out that she is not in fact a medical doctor.

“I don’t need a doctor to treat my di­ar­rhea,” Gilkes said. “If you are go­ing to hold Dr Chris­tie up to the spotlight then you have to do that to every other doc­­tor in town. I don’t be­lieve any of them would still be open.”

Dr Sin Somuny, director of Medi­­­cam, a consortium of health NGOs, said he would support greater scrutiny by the Ministry of Health of the qualifications of pri­vate health practitioners, which 80 percent of Cam­bo­d­ians use.

“This case should be used as an ex­­ample of how to apply the change in approach,” he said.

He said qualified doctors have an in-depth un­der­standing of anatomy, pathology, ethics and drugs that is necessary to run a full-scale clinic.

“I do not agree that all clinics would close if closer licensing pro­cedures were enacted,” he add­­ed.


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