Health officials have announced a crackdown on medical clinics whose operations continue to contravene regulations amid concerns that the quality of healthcare may be being compromised.
The announcement was made following initial information reported by the Vientiane Health Department (VHD), which suggested there are several clinics employing false advertising to persuade customers to use their services.
In addition, some clinics whose business licenses carry the name of Lao nationals have been seen being operated by foreigners instead, which is against the regulations governing the sector.
According to the regulations, foreigners are not permitted to operate local medical clinics – the business is reserved for Lao nationals. However, foreigners are encouraged to invest in and operate larger-scale modern healthcare centres and hospitals.
An official from the Ministry of Health, who preferred to remain anonymous, said some clinic license holders who lend out their licenses to others or allow foreigners to run their clinics are in fact Lao officials.
Deputy Director General of the Healthcare Department at the Ministry of Health, Associate Professor Dr Chanphomma Vongsamphanh, warned that those who continue to lend out their licenses to foreigners could face having them revoked.
“A warning notice on this issue has already been issued,” he told Vientiane Times yesterday.
The Vientiane Health Department reported more than 60 clinics and massage businesses in the capital have been operating in contravention of the relevant regulations.
The department has previously invited operators of these businesses to meet and warned them to improve their business operations in line with the relevant regulations.
Further action will now be taken to find out whether the medical clinics and massage business operators have complied with the regulations following the warning, according to an official from the department in charge of the issue.
But the official declined to give further details, including the precise date of when action would be taken, saying he would prefer to keep those details confidential to ensure the effectiveness of the inspection.
Deputy Director General of the Healthcare Department at the Ministry of Health, Dr Phisith Phoutsavath, said the ministry wanted to regulate and manage the issue with some sensitivity.
“The operators will be warned to improve their operations and tougher steps will be taken if they continue to breach the regulations,” he said.
In addition to this, health officials met with media representatives last week in a move to prevent false advertisements being published and broadcast in the media.
Dr Phisith said health-related advertisements should be checked and approved by the Healthcare Department to avoid any false advertisements and consequent health risks, noting that this was not the case previously.
There have been some clinics in major provinces reported to be operating in contravention of the regulations, but majority were identified in the capital Vientiane.
So far, more than 300 clinics have been licensed and operated across the country. A license for a medical clinic is valid for two years and then requires revision for further extension.
The Healthcare Department said those clinics whose operations are in serious contravention of the relevant regulations may find that their licences are not extended.
Source: Vientiane Times