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Private health clinics forced to close  

Health officials say some small, privately run clinics owned or operated by foreign entities will be ordered to close by the end of this year after they were found to be in breach of the regulations.
The closures will reduce the number of public complaints the department receives.  It will also ease frustrations over the bogus advertising some of these foreign-run clinics have continued to put out.
Some advertising has been found to be misleading regarding the services offered and some clinics have also been overcharging customers.
Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, said on Wednesday that all health facilities could face closure if they were found to be in breach of the regulations.

He said the ministry’s mandate is to improve the standard of health services and treatment at private clinics under the Healthcare Law and accompanying regulations on private hospitals and medical clinics. Most clinics found to be in breach of regulations will close on the expiry of their medical licences. In addition, the department will not extend the investment documents of these clinics when they expire. 
Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong reassured many foreign-owned clinic operators when he said it was possible their practices could be upgraded to hospitals, but only if they complied with the standards laid out in the Law on Healthcare. 
The closures will send a strong signal to foreign nationals that the operation of medical clinics is reserved solely for Lao doctors, according to Article 11 of the regulations on private medical clinics number 575/MOH, issued in 1991.
Foreigners wanting to operate medical businesses in Laos will only be permitted to open hospitals, he added.
Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong noted that there have been some problems in the private health sector for some time.
The services offered often do not meet clinical standards, the rates charged are often excessive, and justice is thereby denied to patients.
Director of the Healthcare and Rehabilitation Department under the Ministry of Health, Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounnack Saysanasongkham, said health officials had inspected foreign-owned clinics in Vientiane after a number of complaints were received about shoddy practices.
A total of 248 private clinics operated or owned by foreign and Lao nationals around the country have been ordered to close by the Ministry of Health due to regulation breaches.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update January 25, 2019)


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