We learn about Cambodia’s medical and pharmaceutical sector from Dr. Som Leakhena, the director of Khema Clinic and Maternity.
B2B: What developments are underway in Cambodia’s medical and pharmaceutical industry?
Dr. Som: There are some positive developments recently in terms of improving private practice regulations and strengthening the registration and licensing processes for health professionals to practice either in public or private settings. The Health Professional Councils have been mandated to support and monitor the process of tool/protocol development and implementation. However, there are still a lot of challenges for the Councils to mobilise resources to realise high-quality health care.
B2B: How would you assess the medical tourism sector in Cambodia
Dr. Som: The medical tourism sector in Cambodia is still in its early stage of development. Actually, there are still many Cambodians that are looking for healthcare outside of the country. Apart from a small number of tourists who receive dental care while visiting Cambodia, I don’t have much information on foreign nationals coming to the Kingdom for medical care.
B2B: How is the level of medical assistance in Cambodia? How qualified and capable are Khmer doctors and foreign practitioners working in Cambodia compared to those in Europe and North America?
Dr. Som: Recently, there has been a lot of improvement in the capacities and competencies of Cambodian doctors, specifically among professionals who have returned from overseas training and practices. The level of their knowledge and skills is similar to that of western doctors.
B2B: How is the quality of pharmacies in Phnom Penh and throughout the Kingdom?
Dr. Som: The quality of pharmacies in Phnom Penh is generally better than those in the provinces. Overall, there are some good pharmacies that work closely with multinational companies as their suppliers.
B2B: What are some of the difficulties that you would encounter as a foreign doctor trying to set up your practice in Cambodia? What are the advantages of working as a foreign doctor in the Kingdom?
Dr. Som: The advantages include no strict regulations for foreign doctors to practice. Also, local people seem to trust foreign doctors more than Khmer doctors. Therefore, the foreign doctor can charge higher doctor’s fees.
Disadvantages include a lack of reliable lab services, and standard medical facilities and equipment. Challenges in collaboration and communication with public and other private hospitals for referrals and follow-ups are also an issue.
B2B: How will the Asian Economic Community (AEC) change standards in the industry?
Dr. Som: It is still too early to tell as there is not much discussion about that in the country.
B2B: From a medical point of view, what advice will you give to someone planning to move to Cambodia?
Dr. Som: The need for high-quality healthcare is clear, as is the need for excellent doctors in a growing market. However, from a medical point of view, I believe specialists have more advantages than generalists in Cambodia. Employing specialists also requires a more sophisticated set-up for medical practices that attract middle and upper class clients.