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Illegal, foreign-owned clinics under scrutiny amid public complaints

Health authorities in Vientiane will investigate illegally-operated, foreign-owned clinics following numerous complaints by patients about high fees and substandard services.
Director of the Healthcare and Rehabilitation Department under the Ministry of Health, Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounnack Saysanasongkham, told Vientiane Times yesterday that health officials plan to inspect the clinics next week, aiming to reduce the number of complaints about bogus advertising.
“These inspections will be carried out according to the recent orders from the Ministry of Health to provincial health authorities and local authorities to set up an inspection system for unauthorised private clinics and hospitals,” he said.
Under the order, clinic operators who don’t have a medical licence from the ministry will be ordered to shut down temporarily, he added.
Existing clinics and hospitals will be required to present their documents to health authorities, he added. 
If authorities find there are still infringements of the regulations the clinics won’t be allowed to extend their medical licences to operate in Laos.
Health authorities will order a temporary shutdown of private clinics found to be engaging in false advertising under the Law on Healthcare issued in 2014, Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounnack said.
A senior official from the Ministry of Health, who asked not to be named, said when officials visit private clinics and hospitals they invariably find cases of false advertising and excessive fees, while most operators do not have a medical licence.
She said sometimes they carry out inspections twice a month if there has been a report from a concerned citizen.
The Ministry of Health has undertaken inspections of all private clinics and hospitals according to the healthcare law.
Last year it issued an order to penalise offending clinics for infringement of the regulations and to impose order on healthcare providers. However, the clinics in question could apply to reopen.
According to the ministry, there are 17 private hospitals and more than 1,000 clinics nationwide but only 40 percent of the owners of these hospitals and clinics say they understand the law in relation to the treatment of patients.
Only three of the foreign-owned clinics in Laos held a professional health licence that enabled them to open premises in Vientiane.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update
March 8,

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