Cambodia Investment Review

EuroCham: Building Public Trust is Next Frontier for Cambodia’s Developing Healthcare System

EuroCham: Building Public Trust is Next Frontier for Cambodia’s Developing Healthcare System

Vijian Paramasivam

Cambodia’s healthcare sector, which incorporates both public and private establishments, is confronting an urgent issue: a severe deficit in public trust. This complex challenge was the central focus at EuroCham Cambodia’s Breakfast Talk event “Our Health, Our Home: Rebuilding Trust in Cambodia Healthcare,” where experts and practitioners discussed ways to mend the damaged relationship with the public.

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At the opening of the event, Ministry of Health Secretary of State Prof Koy Vanny articulated the government’s steadfast focus on healthcare improvement. “Healthcare is the government’s top priority. Our new mandate targets healthcare improvements at the community levels, facilitating healthcare centers to reach out to local populations,” said Vanny. He also stressed the essential role of the private sector in this mission. “We are striving to bring the public and private sectors together to fortify the country’s medical system.”

Despite Improving Infrastructure Public Skepticism Remains

This commitment to healthcare has led to a tangible expansion in infrastructure. Between 2018 and 2022, Cambodia increased its healthcare centers from 1,205 to 1,288 and hospitals from 123 to 132. However, these figures alone haven’t alleviated public skepticism.

Lea Bogatin, an official representative from Singapore Medical Concierge Cambodia, reported that approximately 400 Cambodians had traveled to Singapore for health services in 2022. These numbers are expected to climb to 600 this year. “55% of our Cambodian patients are seeking comprehensive heart surgery and stroke treatments, or they are looking for a second opinion from Singaporean specialists due to negative experiences with Cambodian healthcare providers,” Lea Bogatin revealed.

EuroCham Cambodia’s Breakfast Talk event “Our Health, Our Home: Rebuilding Trust in Cambodia Healthcare on 03 October 2023.

Dr. Tith Hong Yoeu, founder and director of Roomchang Dental Hospital, asserted that tackling this challenge begins with elevating the standards of professionalism. “The medical profession is a life-long learning process. We need to continuously develop our knowledge and skills,” he said. Dr. Yoeu also emphasized the need to put an end to fake marketing in social media and called for stricter entry qualifications for aspiring medical students.

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Customer relations and clear communication also play a pivotal role in regaining public trust, according to Dr. Elias Engelking, Senior Consultant at Intercare Hospital. “Doctors and medical institutions need to be better at educating their patients. They should provide informed consent and clarify medical procedures and terminology. Meta-skills and critical thinking are critically needed in the sector,” Dr. Engelking stated.

Regulatory Enforcement Is Crucial for Building Trust

The Chairman of healthcare provider Khema Global added that regulatory enforcement is crucial for building trust. “We need to strengthen the regulation of the healthcare system. Our education system, both at the school and medical levels, must also improve because quality education will naturally produce quality doctors,” he emphasized.

EuroCham Cambodia’s Breakfast Talk event “Our Health, Our Home: Rebuilding Trust in Cambodia Healthcare on 03 October 2023.

Prof Ian Findlay, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Puthisastra, stressed the importance of cracking down on fraudulent activities to win public trust. “Cambodia should enforce Continuous Professional Development for healthcare professionals. In other countries, failure to keep up with modern practices results in the loss of licensure. We need to adopt similar stringent measures,” Findlay concluded.

The consensus among stakeholders is that restoring public trust in Cambodia’s healthcare system is a multi-pronged challenge requiring robust regulatory frameworks, an overhaul of educational standards, and an empathetic, patient-centric approach. All these steps are crucial to retaining Cambodian patients and their healthcare dollars within the country’s borders, thereby contributing to both the sector’s growth and the nation’s wellbeing.

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