Foreign investors inject more interest into private hospitals
More foreign investors are interested in opening private hospitals in the country in response to growing patient demand for high quality health services.
Foreign investors from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and other countries have submitted their proposals to the Ministry of Health, asking for licenses to open new private hospitals in Laos.
Deputy Director General of the Healthcare Department of the Ministry of Health, Assoc Prof. Dr Bounnack Saysanasongkham told Vientiane Times yesterday that all foreign investors can submit their proposals but the ministry will only approve those who can employ modern equipment with qualified surgeons to deliver high quality healthcare services in Laos.
“We want new private hospitals to have modern equipment and expertise, notably in heart surgery and organ transplants,” he said.
New foreign investors will have to comply with the necessary documentation and administration rules, and have proper work practices along with fully qualified medical staff before they will be permitted to open a hospital.
He said for several years the ministry had issued licenses to foreign investors to open clinics and some hospitals in line with government policy, responding to local demand and attempting to reduce the number of Lao patients visiting hospitals in neighbouring countries.
However, many private health facilities in Laos still can't implement this policy because they still lack surgical expertise.
Many Lao patients continued to visit hospitals in neighbouring countries for advice and health services because they perceived the treatment to be superior, Dr Bounnack said.
“At the same time, improvements are required in various areas within local healthcare as government hospitals still can't respond to public demand,” he added.
This would prove difficult as the government had limited budget and a large investment was required to buy modern equipment, he explained.
According to the Healthcare Department, the ministry had advised all new hospitals to ensure they complied with the law on healthcare including foreign-owned hospitals.
There are currently 17 private hospitals and more than 1,000 private clinics in Laos. Three of the clinics are foreign-owned and hold a professional Lao health license that enabled them to open premises in Vientiane.
By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update September 15, 2016)