Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said the government is unable to provide free medical care, as such a move would force private clinics to shut down.
Speaking at a national conference on health at the University of Health in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen’s comments were aimed at the opposition’s pre-election promise of free health care for the poor if the Sam Rainsy Party won the July 27 national election.
“If that promise came true, all clinics would have been shut down because of the free medical treatment,” Hun Sen said.
“When there is free medication, you cannot sell your medicine because the government is in charge of everything,” he said. “Free medication means that no one has the right to sell medicine or set up clinics.”
SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said her party supported giving those with low incomes free medication and that such a policy did not affect private business.
“The government has a responsibility to provide…free medication. This is a solution for the poor. Any government must have public services first,” she said.
Hun Sen also called on the Ministry of Health to review the licenses of private medical clinics that operate ambulance service, as some operators are now competing to carry patients to their clinics though they do not have doctors or proper medical equipment.
“They are competing to transport accident patients just like they are taxis. This operation is influenced by bad officials who have caused patients to die before they reach the hospital,” Hun Sen said.