VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network) A more robust system of licensing is required for medical professionals to bring Laos in line with regional health care systems, a leading member of the medical community has said.
President of the Healthcare Professionals Council, Prof Dr Ponmek Dalaloy, made the comment on Tuesday (Jan 24) when speaking at an event to present licences to teachers and medical specialists at the University of Health Sciences.
The event was also attended by, former Minister of Health Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, and senior representatives of the Healthcare Professionals Council.
Dr Ponmek said a comprehensive national licensing system would be a significant milestone in healthcare development, helping to ensure the competency of healthcare professionals by means of a national examination.
A licence entitles the recipient to provide healthcare within defined professional standards that are legally mandated.
The licensing of healthcare professionals is a crucial step in the development of a modern healthcare workforce, Dr Ponmek said.
The Code of Ethics is also a strong influencing factor and compliance is required to ensure standards are maintained in the provision of nationwide health services.
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, he added.
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, 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 government introduced a policy on registration and licensing in 2016, with regulations stipulating essential procedures to verify healthcare professionals’ fitness to practise.
The policy includes instruction on registration and licensing for healthcare professionals who were inducted before 2020 prior to the introduction of the national examination in 2019. It also outlines instructions on registration and licensing, starting in November 2021, for more recent graduates.
Starting with the issuing of licences for healthcare professionals at Vientiane’s Children’s Hospital in 2020, the Health Professionals Council has been collaborating with each medical institution to license staff in central hospitals and institutions and in the provinces.