HealthHospitals & Clinics

Ministry To Close Foreign Clinics

Source: Vientiane Times

The Healthcare Department of the Ministry of Health will order the closure of foreign-owned clinics when their professional Lao medical licences expire this year.

However, some foreign-owned clinics have already had their medical licences extended from 2017 to 2020.

The ministry had originally ordered the closure of the clinics by the end of 2015 but the Ministry decided to extend the licensing period in the interests of promoting friendly diplomatic relations, according to a health official.

The department’s Director General, Associate Prof. Dr Chanphomma Vongsamphanh, told Vientiane Times yesterday via telephone the closures would also reduce the number of public complaints about bogus advertising by foreign-run clinics, which attracted patients but resulted in them being overcharged.

The closure will send a strong signal to foreign nationals that the operation of medical clinics is solely reserved for Lao doctors, according to Article 11 of the regulations on private medical clinics number 575/MOH, issued in 1991.

All foreigners wanting to continue medical businesses in Laos will only be permitted to open hospitals.

Dr Chanphomma also added that the clinics would close promptly when their medical licences expired.

In addition, the department would not extend investment documents when they expired, he said.

Nevertheless, many foreign-owned clinics can be upgraded to hospitals if they comply with the Law on Healthcare.

Health officials expected that all illegal foreign clinics would be closed by the end of this year. A private clinic or hospital will be fined 2 million kip for the first offence of false advertising, four million kip for a second offence, and 8 million kip for a third offence. Some clinics have already been closed in recent years after being found guilty of this practice.

Ministry of Health regulations only allow private hospitals to advertise their name and location.

They may not state the number of doctors employed at the facility, where they graduated, or the specialised equipment used for treatment.

There are currently 17 private hospitals which registered legally with health ministry. More than 1,000 private clinics in Laos, but only three of the clinics are foreign-owned and hold a professional Lao health licence that enabled them to open premises in Vientiane.