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Health Sector to Introduce Professional Licensing

Source: Vientiane Times

Health authorities say a national licensing system would be a significant milestone in healthcare development, helping to ensure the competency of healthcare professionals by means of national examinations.

President of the Healthcare Professionals Council, Prof. Dr Ponmek Dalaloy, made the comment when speaking at an event to present licences to nurses.
A licence entitles the recipient to provide healthcare within defined professional standards that are legally mandated, he said, and the licensing of healthcare professionals is a crucial step in the development of a modern healthcare workforce.

Professional licensing is a strong influencing factor and compliance is required to ensure standards are maintained in providing health services, he added.
Steps are being taken to ensure the regulation of healthcare professionals through certification, to ensure the quality and safety of public and private healthcare in Laos.

Providing quality and equitable health services for all citizens has been a priority of the government since the Law on Health Care was enacted in 2005.
Although legislation and policies have been formulated to enable the introduction of a licensing system in recent years, it has not been extensively put into practice and the Code of Ethics is also not enforced, meaning patients do not benefit as intended, Prof. Dr Ponmek said.

Licensing helps to build a robust regulatory system in which Laos, as an Asean member state, facilitates the mobility of healthcare professionals such as doctors, dentists and nurses within the region under mutual recognition arrangements.

The Ministry of Health has been issuing licences to doctors and nurses only from 2016 to 2020 and then to all health sector personnel from 2020 to 2025.
The government introduced a policy on registration and licensing in 2016, with regulations stipulating essential procedures to verify healthcare professionals’ fitness to practice.

The policy includes instructions on registration and licensing for healthcare professionals who were inducted before 2020 before the introduction of national examinations in 2019.   

The ministry began by issuing licences for healthcare professionals at Vientiane’s Children’s Hospital in 2020. The Health Professionals Council has been collaborating with each medical institution to licence staff in central hospitals and institutions and in the provinces.

This year, the Healthcare Professionals Council is celebrating International Nurses Day to acknowledge the achievements of the country’s nurses and discuss the best way forward for the profession.

An event to mark the occasion was attended by Prof. Dr Ponmek, former Minister of Health Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, and members of the Healthcare Professionals Council.