Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the Health Ministry to monitor hospitals providing free medical check-ups and treatments to garment workers.
Speaking to garment workers from four factories in Kandal province yesterday, Mr Hun Sen told health officials to pay attention to workers’ health, especially those who are pregnant or just gave birth.
“As for the health sector, the Health Ministry must monitor hospitals to ensure that workers are not being charged for check-ups and treatments,” he said. “This includes formal and informal workers.”
Far Saly, president of National Trade Unions Coalition, said he welcomed Mr Hun Sen’s statement.
However, Mr Saly noted that Mr Hun Sen’s statement will be rendered ineffective if the Health Ministry and hospitals do not comply.
“The Prime Minister pays much attention to workers and ordered the Health Ministry to work closely with workers,” he said. “But if health officials themselves do not change their services or attitude, I think that workers won’t get free services.”
Mr Saly said most workers do not utilise their social security benefits provided by the NSSF because they are treated differently than those who pay for health services.
“I still see that there is a difference in services offered to those who pay and to those who use their NSSF card,” he said. “NSSF users are treated differently by health officials.”
“I myself faced the same problem when using an NSSF card to do a check-up,” Mr Saly added. “They did not pay much attention to me.”
A garment worker who declined to be named said that he took his wife to a clinic for a check-up in August, using their NSSF cards for the service. However, staffers at the clinic told them to return another day.
“My wife got a stomach ache and she couldn’t bear the pain for too long, but they told us to go home and come back on another day,” the worker said. “We decided to go to a private hospital instead.”
Health Ministry Mam Bunheng last month said health officials play an important role in providing health services to people safely and effectively.
“We need to be highly responsible both in terms of skills and experience,” Mr Bunheng said, adding that patients are to be treated as family members to health officials.
He added that the ministry will continue to improve the services of local medical centres.
“We will work together to improve the services, but you all have to understand that this is a new system,” Mr Bunheng said.
About 1,300 hospitals and health centres are cooperating with the NSSF to provide healthcare for workers.