Municipal health officials ordered 10 small private clinics in two Phnom Penh districts to close Tuesday for operating without licenses, officials said.
About 100 other clinics are still operating without licenses despite a municipal health department’s warnings that unlicensed centers would be closed, said Veng Thai, director of the city’s health department.
“If they are able to open a clinic…they have to follow criteria from the Ministry of Health,” he said Tuesday.
A team of investigators closed down nine clinics in Prampi Makara district and one in Meanchey district Tuesday, said Sor Panha, who is in charge of the investigating team. They were given notice at least three months ago, but did not close, he said. He would not name any of the clinic operators.
A license costs about $20 and requires the clinic to comply with Cambodia’s requirements for sterile and appropriate medical facilities and proper medical procedures, Veng Thai said. “Maybe some of the [clinic owners] are not motivated to apply. That’s why I try for the first time to close some of them,” he said.
In December, officials warned the city’s 50 large clinics and 700 small clinics to obtain operating licenses or face closure.
In telephone interview Tuesday, Veng Thai said he will refer clinics that continue to operate unlicensed to the courts.
A license is often easy to get and doesn’t always mean a clinic is reputable, said Dr Phanita Yos, an internal medicine specialist at the private Naga Clinic. “In the government now, there’s no kind of standard practice for the clinics,” he said. This confuses people as to where to find medical care, he added.
In 2001, the Ministry of Health began a similar drive to close unlicensed foreign clinics, but the directive was stalled when several clinics complied and others offered to work toward compliance.
(Additional reporting by Nhem Chea Bunly)