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Medical & Pharmaceutical

To make sure you stay healthy in Cambodia, B2B has thrown together all the essentials about  medical, dental, pharmaceutical and veterinarian services available in Cambodia. We’ve even got some general advice for staying fighting fit in the Kingdom.

“Healthcare” and “Cambodia” may have once been considered unlikely bedfellows but nowadays, while not yet world class, healthcare in the Kingdom is definitely on the up. No longer do you need to get an emergency flight to Bangkok or Singapore for a routine procedure, Cambodia boasts an array of perfectly capable hospitals and clinics with competent, educated staff. The Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, opened on Russian Boulevard in 2014, was a welcome addition to the country’s medical landscape and the latest in a succession of Western-standard healthcare facilities to open in the country.

If you can’t find you’re answer here, just ask us at B2B and we’ll point you in the right direction.

  • The last couple of years have seen important developments in Cambodia’s medical world, with the sector moving forward faster than ever.
  • A change in the country’s expat profile has helped drive change in the sector in this direction. More of the country’s expat population are young, independent professionals who are very health conscious and demand higher standards of medical services.
  • Sunrise-Japan Hospital finally opened in January 2017, employing physicians and healthcare providers from Japan, as well as local professionals trained in Japan. In addition to common sickness and injuries, emergency response and healthcare management are also covered by the new facility. The hospital is located in the Chrouy Changvar peninsula.
  • Khema opened a new clinic in September last year. Centrally located in BKK1, their facilities are apt for the practice of 36 medical specialties, including emergency services, cardiology, internal medicine, and dermato-oncology. Their equipment and facilities include ICUs, an advanced medical laboratory, an ambulance and a pharmacy open 24/7.
  • Among the specializations experiencing the most robust growth, eyecare stands out. Dr. Agrawal Eye Hospital jointly with Dr. Kong Piseth Eye Hospital is a clear example of advancements in this field.
  • Additionally, the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), in tandem with local organisation Khmer Sight, is building a new specialized hospital in Phnom Penh for eye-related conditions.
  • There are also several other private medical clinics run by foreigners in Phnom Penh, many of which employ foreign staff or local physicians who have studied abroad.
  • However, no institution is currently able to deliver the full-range of inpatient and outpatient medical services in existence.
  • Even when the services provided by all local hospitals and clinics are considered collectively, some medical specializations are still unavailable and patients may need to be evacuated out of Cambodia to other centres of medical specialty for particular treatment.
  • The Cambodian Ministry of Health (MoH) is in charge of the healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical industry and public health and is responsible for regulating hospitals, clinics and medical professionals, as well as NGOs involved in healthcare.
  • 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 mobilize resources to realize their dreams for high health care quality.
  • There has been huge growth in the cosmetics and aesthetic medicine markets in the capital.
  • As Cambodia’s middle class develops, there has been a rise in chronic diseases, including obesity and diabetes.
  • Cambodians are increasingly recognizing the importance of paying proper attention and treating chronic illnesses, such as high-blood pressure, diabetes and arrhythmias. Pharmaceuticals to treat these conditions are now more widely available than ever before.
  • While upper class Cambodians demand more expensive imported medicines, local manufacturers can produce low-cost generics, or can import them from countries like India.
  • Your health insurance should cover both inpatient and outpatient care. If you only get outpatient coverage, you could end up paying a lot of money if your condition is not serious enough to warrant hospitalization.
  • Cambodia has facilities where doctors can handle a variety of issues.
  • However, you may require evacuation to a regional hospital facility in neighbouring countries for specialist treatment.
  • Given the high cost of medical evacuation, which can easily exceed $15,000, having insurance that includes “medevac” coverage is strongly advised for expatriates.
  • If you are insured for medevac, you may be repatriated to your home country, or a suitable regional alternative, depending on the specific terms of your insurance and the type and duration treatment you require.
  • Several regional specific plans are available – and prices much lower than worldwide coverage policies due to the relative costs of health care and the range of healthcare products available.
  • Beware, travel insurance is not as comprehensive as health insurance.
  • Singapore is the number one regional alternative in terms of skill and technology but it is also the most expensive. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh offer good standards of care at reasonable prices.
  • Many westerners and interAsian residents travel to South East Asia for medical tourism because of the healthcare standards to cost ratio, particularly when it comes to dental care.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a number of representative offices of regional hospitals, such as Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Hospital in Bangkok, the Franco-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Sime Darby and Mahkota Medical Center in Malaysia.
  • These sister hospitals can arrange appointments as well as transport, including Medevac, from Cambodia.
  • Facilities in Phnom Penh can manage infectious diseases, tropical and metabolic diseases, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes, medical emergencies and accidents requiring specialist treatment.  Critical care is still at a premium. Cardiac care with intervention is reliable.
  • However, you may require evacuation to a regional hospital facility in neighbouring countries.
  • Some of the specialties that are unavailable in the country include paediatric neonatology, oncology, management of multiple trauma and orthopaedic and vascular surgery.   
  • Ambulance services provided by the private hospitals are equipped to internationally safe standards and are subject to strict regulation.  They usually provide medical escort.  Legislation regarding the use of municipal ambulances remains restrictive in terms of where patients can be fetched and delivered.
  • Given the high cost of medical evacuation, which can easily exceed $10,000, having insurance that includes “medevac” coverage is strongly advised.
  • If you are insured for medevac, you may be repatriated to your home country, or a suitable regional alternative, depending on the specific terms of your insurance and the type and duration treatment you require.
  • Singapore is the number one regional alternative in terms of skill and technology but it is also the most expensive. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh offer good standards of care at reasonable prices.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a number of representative offices of regional hospitals, such as Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Hospital in Bangkok, the Franco-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Sime Darby and Mahkota Medical Center in Malaysia.
  • They can arrange appointments as well as transport, including Medevac, from Cambodia.
  • Pharmaceuticals are extremely easily accessible in Cambodia, being bought over the counter in most cases.
  • However, the quality of pharmacies and pharmaceutical products and the consistency in supply varies greatly.
  • The sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals continues to be a problem in Cambodia.
  • Although the situation is improving, it remains important to choose pharmacies carefully as some fake medications are ineffective and harmful.
  • The standard of factories producing medicine also needs to be taken into account.
  • Standards of practise in the medicine factories are still not up to par with the West. This means some of these cheaper drugs may not be healthy to take because they do not meet certain criteria of the standards of practice. For instance, some have been contaminated with other medicines during production, or damaged by exposure to the sun or moisture.
  • Many pharmacies don’t use qualified staff, and store medication in inappropriate temperatures. The further away from big cities you get, the worse these standards get.
  • There is no shortage of gyms in Phnom Penh that cater to international standards.
  • Local gyms cost as little at 50 cents a day.
  • Classes, such as pilates, yoga, karate and keep-fit also run regularly in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
  • Signing up for team sports is easy, including football, rugby, badminton, volleyball, running (the Hash House Harriers) and basketball, to name just a few.
  • The Phnom Penh Parent’s Network on Yahoo Groups is the perfect place to find these sporting clubs.
  • Many of the luxury hotels allow tennis court renting.
  • Many hotels also have swimming pools that can be used for a small fee.
  • See Cambodia Pocketguide: Out and About for more information of where these pools are and how much they cost.
  • Team sports facilities are still limited and prices can be a bit steep.
  • The lack of illuminated pitches also makes playing after dark a tad difficult.
  • Nevertheless, these options are growing by the day.
  • Parks, tracks, green and open spaces are not common in Cambodia.
  • However, there are areas where, early in the morning or evening, Cambodians gather to walk or partake in communal aerobics classes.
  • You are more than welcome to join these aerobics classes, for a small fee.
  • Phnom Penh now has several hospitals where foreigners can receive medical treatment.
  • These include Calmette Hospital, the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, Royal Rattanak Hospital, Sen Sok IU Hospital, and the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, which is part of the Bangkok Hospital Group.
  • Sunrise-Japan hospital finally opened in January 2017, employing physicians and healthcare providers from Japan, as well as local professionals trained in Japan. In addition to common sickness and injuries, emergency response and healthcare management are also covered by the new facility. The hospital is located in the Chrouy Changvar peninsula.
  • Khema opened a new clinic in September last year. Centrally located in BKK1, their facilities are apt for the practice of 36 medical specialties, including emergency services, cardiology, internal medicine, and dermato-oncology. Their equipment and facilities include ICUs, an advanced medical laboratory, an ambulance and a pharmacy open 24/7.
  • Among the specializations experiencing the most robust growth, eyecare stands out. Dr. Agrawal Eye Hospital jointly with Dr. Kong Piseth Eye Hospital is a clear example of advancements in this field.
  • Additionally, the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), in tandem with local organisation Khmer Sight, is building a new hospital in Phnom Penh for eye-related conditions.
  • Siem Reap is home to the Royal Angkor International Hospital. However, this city is far behind Phnom Penh when it comes to standards of medical service, with patients often travelling down to the capital for medical care even for relatively simple conditions.
  • Always check the qualifications of your chosen doctor.
  • Several children’s hospitals also operate in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap though their focus is primarily on Cambodian patients.
  • In the case of an emergency, it’s recommended to go to one of the larger hospitals or an internationally recognised clinic.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a number of representative offices of regional hospitals, such as Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Hospital, in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Franco-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They can arrange appointments as well as transport from Cambodia.
  • Consultations are relatively inexpensive but transport to hospital, especially in Ambulance services, costs a lot.
  • Dengue fever, malaria and influenza share many of the same signs, so if you come down with a fever it’s worth getting a blood test to determine exactly what condition you have.
  • The use of pharmaceuticals in Cambodia is growing as more of the country change from traditional to western medicines.
  • And the pharmaceuticals industry looks set to strengthen with global brands such as Germany’s Bayer, France’s Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline entering the market.
  • Pharmaceuticals are easily accessible over the counter in Cambodia.
  • Yet the quality of pharmacies varies greatly and the sale of fake pharmaceuticals continues to be a problem.
  • It can be difficult to tell fake medicines from real ones, however, signs include reduced price, difference in colours among boxes of the same medication, and a lack of manufacturer or expiry dates in the box.
  • The most frequently counterfeited drugs tend to be painkillers, Viagra, Valium and sleeping pills.
  • Expensive but necessary medications such as anti-diabetic, anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs are also commonly counterfeited and sold in Cambodian pharmacies, particularly in rural areas.
  • Many locally operated pharmacies in Cambodia also lack trained staff meaning customers run the risk of being prescribed the wrong medicine, and given unqualified advice.
  • Also keep in mind that many pharmacies would try to sell the customer medicines that he or she doesn’t really need according to the prognosis. For some of these businesses, selling as much as possible is what counts.
  • Obtaining a license to open a pharmacy requires that the applicant be a registered pharmacist in Cambodia.
  • It’s not required that the pharmacist be on the premises during the hours of pharmacy operation.
  • Therefore, it has become common practice for pharmacists to hire out their name and license number to other entrepreneurs wishing to open a pharmacy.
  • Don’t always buy the cheapest products, as they may well be counterfeit.
  • And always check the expiry dates, label, and storage conditions on purchase.
  • To be safe always use a well-kept pharmacy with a trained pharmacist who provides medication with proper instructions.
  • Some reliable certified pharmacies such as Pharmalink, U-Care, Western Pharmacy, Guardian and Pharmacie de la Gare.
  • Phnom Penh now has several hospitals where foreigners can receive high-quality medical treatment.
  • There are also many clinics in Cambodia, offering everything from basic medical services to physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture, plastic surgery and even traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Laboratory services, X Ray and IRM are available in Cambodia.
  • New clinics have recently opened featuring ICUs, advanced medical laboratories and catherizaton laboratories.
  • Phnom Penh also now has reliable options for westerners seeking dermatology, physiotherapy, psychiatric care for acute conditions, and radiology treatments.
  • Chiropractics is a relatively new specialist healthcare option for Cambodia.
  • In the case of an emergency, it’s recommended to go to one of the larger hospitals or an internationally recognised clinic.
  • Ultrasound is widely available and Phnom Penh also has CT and MRI equipment. The availability of quality medical reporting must be taken into account when choosing which facility to use.
  • Scans are available for as little as US$120, much cheaper than Thailand.
  • Most preventive medicine and outpatient surgery can be carried out at a medical clinic, though some specialties may require you to go to a hospital.
  • Cambodia’s ever-expanding medical infrastructure is diversifying but the range of treatments remains limited.
  • However, Phnom Penh now has reliable options for westerners seeking physiotherapy, dermatology, psychiatric care, and radiology treatments.
  • Culture shock can create anxiety and depression, and Phnom Penh offers a variety of counsellors.
  • However, there are only a handful of western-PhD holding therapists working in Phnom Penh.
  • International SOS staffs a German-trained dermatologist who can treat skin diseases and perform skin biopsy.
  • Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and X-Ray services are available at Calmette Hospital, with reliable medical reports provided.
  • Opening a clinic or hospital requires obtaining a license through the Department of Hospital Services within the Ministry of Health, as well as the Ministry of Commerce.
  • A hospital or clinic can be 100 percent foreign owned, although the registering physician must be Khmer.
  • For a recent graduate in the West with student loans to pay off, it may not be practical to set up a practice in Cambodia because the wages are not competitive.
  • Westerners are often automatically granted a high level of trust because they come from a richer country with more resources for learning.
  • The primary issue for newcomers will be that of the language barrier. Finding a qualified translator may assist this.
  • Other pitfalls include navigating the multitude of cultural differences between Eastern and Western medical beliefs and attitudes.
  • Nevertheless, an abundance of hands-on experience is available in Cambodia, and practitioners will be exposed to diseases and maladies rarely encountered in the West.
  • Also, significantly, medical malpractice insurance is not required in Cambodia.
  • Medical professionals, both Khmer and foreign, need to be licensed to practice by the Department of Hospital Services of the Ministry of Health (MOH), and foreign doctors require a work permit from the Ministry of Commerce.
  • The MOH is also responsible for regulating hospitals, clinics and medical professionals, as well as NGOs involved in healthcare.
  • The pool of Khmer medical professionals is still, for the most part, perceived as substandard by the Western medical community. However, the situation is changing quickly.
  • The pool of Khmer medical practitioners is growing everyday as more graduates finish their studies. The degree of commitment and compassion of these young professionals is no different to other countries.
  • Many Khmer doctors and other medical professionals have received extensive training abroad, or from visiting medical personnel from other countries.
  • The top medical school in Cambodia is the University of Health Science.
  • However, when compared to top-tier international medical schools, the quality of medical training here is still somewhat compromised due to a lack of state-of-the-art technology and medical research units.
  • Dental care in Cambodia now approaches international standards with many foreign or foreign-trained dentists practicing, especially in Phnom Penh.
  • Everything from a basic clean to more complex procedures, such as root canal work, can be carried out to high standards and the costs are generally less than elsewhere in the region.
  • Cambodia has an excellent community of dentists that offer top-notch service at a fraction of the price in the West.
  • Always check the qualifications of your chosen dentist.
  • International dentists will also generally ship equipment from their country.
  • Quality root canal treatment and gum treatment is poor across Cambodia, with the country’s dentistry strengths lying in cosmetic treatment.
  • With the country’s recent entry into ASEAN, standards are expected to rise.
  • There are Khmer visitor clinics, although many do not conduct full assessments.
  • The Phnom Penh Physiotherapy clinic employs international staff and standards.
  • Animal medical practices are a growing business in Cambodia, and the welfare of animals, from pets to livestock to wild animals, is seen as an increasingly important matter.
  • A number of NGOs work to improve animal welfare through vaccination campaigns and other animal health programmes.
  • For pet owners, vets (both foreign and Khmer) are available in the country.
  • Medical NGOs operate throughout Cambodia, offering a range of free or low-cost services for poor to low-income families.
  • NGO activities run the gamut from providing individual health and public health education, cataract surgery, dental health, pre-natal and material examinations to drug and sex education.
  • The UN sponsored Malaria management programme in Cambodia is known as one of the world’s best, and has been very successful in controlling its spread.

Health Top Tips

Our panel of experts in the medical and pharmaceutical industry share some tips on how to stay fit & healthy while living here.

  • Fake pharmaceuticals remain an issue in Cambodia, with the majority being produced in China, India and Vietnam.
  • It’s difficult to tell fake medicines from real ones but it’s possible by looking at the lot number printed on the box and blister, which should match.
  • Other signs include reduced price and difference in colours among boxes of the same medication.
  • The most frequently counterfeited drugs tend to be painkillers, Viagra, Valium, and sleeping pills.
  • Expensive but necessary medications such as anti-diabetes, anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs are also commonly counterfeited, particularly in rural areas.
  • Be sure to check the expiry date on the packaging.
  • To be safe always use a well-kept pharmacy with a trained pharmacist who provides medication with proper instructions.
  • Some good ones are certified pharmacies such as Pharmalink, U-Care, Western Pharmacy, Guardian and Pharmacie de la Gare.
  • Always insist on a package insert (counterfeit medicines will not have one).
  • While malaria is not prevalent in Cambodia there are some pockets of the country where it exists and preventative measures should be put in place.
  • Malaria is low risk in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but there is a risk when in rural, mountainous or jungle areas.
  • Dengue fever is active across the country.
  • No vaccine currently exists for dengue fever, which is carried by daytime mosquitoes.
  • Doctors recommend proper clothing and proper mosquito repellents with high DEET content.
  • Most cases of dengue can be treated at clinics in Phnom Penh but evacuation may have to be considered if a blood transfusion is required in advanced stages of the disease.
  • Malaria mosquitoes are usually prevalent at dusk and pose a real risk in some areas.
  • The Thai-Cambodian border is where malaria is the most resistant worldwide.
  • There is a quarantine enforced here if anyone shows a confirmed case of malaria because it’s a very strong strain and is not known anywhere else in the world.
  • However, the Ministry of Health runs advanced malaria control programmes. Across the rest of Cambodia, malaria can be vaccinated against.
  • Antibiotics, including antimalarial drugs, are widely available, but should always be purchased at reliable pharmacies.
  • Many doctors don’t support the use of antimalarial drugs if unnecessary – as they can have significant side effects.

Preventative Care in Cambodia

What vaccines will you need; and where to get ‘em…

  • Visitors should be current on routine vaccines before coming to Cambodia.
  • This includes measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and a yearly flu shot.
  • The hepatitis A vaccine is also prudent in Cambodia because you can contract the virus through contaminated food or water just about anywhere in Cambodia.
  • Typhoid can be contracted through contaminated food or water in Cambodia.
  • You may consider this vaccine if you will be spending considerable time in the provinces, visiting particularly rural areas, or if you like to sample the local food products.
  • You can get Hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products.
  • This vaccine is recommended if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedure.
  • You only need to consider the Japanese encephalitis vaccine if your trip will last more than a month, and depending on where you are going in Cambodia and what time of year you are traveling. It is one of the more expensive Vaccines.
  • For the vast majority of people who merely visit Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, preventative malaria medication is a waste of time and money.
  • Prescription preventative malaria medication may be warranted based on your travel plans, such as where you are going, or if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside.
  • Many doctors don’t support the use of antimalarial drugs if unnecessary – as they can have significant side effects.
  • The best way to avoid malaria is to avoid mosquito bites by using common sense. Wear long pants after dusk, and use a good mosquito repellent.
  • There is no national requirement for animal inoculation against rabies which is found in dogs, bats, cats, monkeys and other mammals in Cambodia, so preventative vaccination may be a good idea for people involved in outdoor activities that put them at risk for animal bites.
  • It is also, a must for people who will be working with or around animals, such as veterinarians and wildlife professionals.
  • Sihanoukville has seen an increase in foreigners contracting rabies in recent times. Beware of dogs acting strangely around beach areas. If you are bitten, see a doctor immediately. Rabies in humans is fatal.
  • Dengue fever is active across the country.
  • A partially effective vaccine against dengue will be made available in the country by the end of 2017.
  • Proper clothing and proper mosquito repellents with high DEET content are recommended if travelling or staying in high-risk areas.
  • If you do fall ill, most cases of dengue can be treated at clinics in Phnom Penh.
  • Keep in mind, Dengue is not easy to diagnose as its symptoms mirror many other fevers, so ensure your doctor is familiar with the management of this condition
  • While it is advisable to arrive in Cambodia with an up-to-date set of recommended vaccinations, all of the necessary shots are now available in Phnom Penh regardless.
  • Quality-controlled vaccines are administered at international clinics.
  • Post-exposure treatment, including full vaccination cycles, for rabies and tetanus are also available at the international clinics.
  • Maintaining your own health is very important.
  • Failing to stay healthy is an element that is imperative for expats.
  • Many people do not realise the importance of exercise and staying healthy to your long-term health.
  • Every study conducted shows people who exercise live longer and have a much better quality of life when they get older.
  • The body you have now is the body you’re making for the future.
  • There is no excuse because there are many good gyms available in Phnom Penh.
  • Create a long-term investment plan: Take the long view and allow a ten to 15-year time investment for your pharmacy or clinic to become profitable and have an impact in the community.
  • Study your target audience: Understand who you are targeting and their income level before deciding what products you are going to offer them.
  • Become familiar with local suppliers: Be aware that there are a lot of medications that local suppliers will not be able to provide. Research this carefully and try to find suppliers with the highest quality and widest range of pharmaceuticals.
  • Study local cultural norms: Consider your patient’s cultural background and, if possible, avoid situations that might make him/her feel uncomfortable.
  • Advance your skills: Many foreign medical practitioners working in Cambodia take the opportunity to do voluntary work in the provinces. The ailments and limitations encountered allow them to take their skill set a step further.
  • Become familiar with networking venues: Take time to make the right connections. In the medical field, as in any other industry, who you know can be vital.
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