Healthcare Revolution ‘Not the Answer’
Khmer Time / Ven Rathavong / Monday, 29 February 2016
While the Kingdom’s frequently criticized hospitals and doctors need to upgrade their services and skills, it is incorrect to label most Cambodian doctors “bad,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.
He also called on doctors to help improve the nation’s healthcare system and educate the next generation of health professionals. This will protect the reputation of doctors from “insults,” he added during a speech at the inauguration of Sihanouk Province Referral Hospital.
“We have to recognize that some of our doctors do not follow the code of conduct and use bad words with patients. Some hospitals, also, put money above the treatment of their patients,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that while the health sector has shortcomings this does not mean that “99 out of 100 doctors are bad.”
If this claim were true, the prime minister said, there would be far more fatalities in hospitals than there are. Hospital administrators would be unable to keep track of the deaths, Mr. Hun Sen added. His comments follow criticism last month by Dr. Mengly Quach, the American-trained president of his eponymous medical school, which has three branches across the Kingdom. Dr. Quach said that nine of 10 doctors in Cambodia are “bad.” They are “arrogant,” and lack “professionalism, compassion, morals, and gentleness,” he explained. Mr. Hun Sen said yesterday that only a handful of doctors violated rules and caused problems. There are more than 20,000doctors throughout the Kingdom, and insults directed at the healthcare system as a whole are directed at all of them, he said. He called for reform of the healthcare system rather than a revolution.
“Some people demand a revolution of our doctors. If we have a revolution of our doctors, does it mean that we take the existing doctors to kill?” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that doctors are like soldiers and police officers because they do not have much time to spend with their families – even on holidays.
“Most of our doctors follow a code of conduct and are professional, and sacrifice to help their patients,” Mr. Hun Sen said. Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponhearith agreed that the healthcare sector needs to be reformed.
“It is a good point that we recognize the problem and want to reform it,” he said, adding that some doctors are immoral and unprofessional, while some hospitals are poorly managed. Mr. Ponhearith added that leadership opportunities in the healthcare sector should be opened for youths and those with proper skills and qualifications in order to avoid nepotism in the structuring of institutions.
The Cambodian Doctors Association, as well as other medical organizations within the Kingdom, condemned Dr. Quach’s criticism of Cambodian doctors last month and demanded an apology.
Dr. Quach replied by saying there were a number of Cambodian doctors who were capable, a statement the association accepted.