Ministry Vows to Wipe Out Unlicensed Clinics

More than 1,300 unlicensed medical clinics were shut down in 2015 and the remaining 900 will be closed in 2016, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said on Tuesday, ostensibly putting an end to lax medical standards that have allowed for scandals such as the mass HIV outbreak that devastated Roka village in Battambang province.

Mr. Bunheng also said that some 200 unlicensed doctors who had evaded sanction during the crackdown of 2015 would be caught this year.

“We will take measures and crack down on all remaining care services and consultancies in 2016, including those unlicensed doctors,” he said. “Those who do not respect the law, we will file a court complaint against them.”

A post to the Health Ministry’s Facebook page on Monday said a countrywide census had found that of 10,495 places offering medical services in Cambodia, 8,154 were licensed. Of the bogus clinics, it said, 1,368 were shuttered in 2015 and the remaining 973 will meet the same fate this year.

“Please, people and all doctors, respect the law. People, if you have a health problem, please use health services that are recognized by the Ministry of Health or doctors who have correct training in order to avoid problems like Roka village in Battambang province,” the post said.

Last month, Yem Chrin, an unlicensed doctor in Battambang’s Roka commune, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty of reusing needles on local residents, more than 280 of whom contracted HIV.

Voeung Bunreth, director of the health department in Battambang, said on Tuesday that all unlicensed clinics in the province had now been closed, though he did not provide numbers.

Or Vanthen, director of health in Kompong Speu province, also claimed that there were no unlicensed clinics remaining in his jurisdiction, the “two or three” that did exist having been shut down.

He said 332 unlicensed doctors in the province had also been identified and made to sign an agreement to cease operations.

“If they do not respect the contract, we will sue them in court,” he said.

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