Authorities have ordered the closure of three Chinese clinics this month in the northern Laotian province of Luang Namtha after issues such as unsanitary conditions and unqualified doctors have led to multiple patient deaths, RFA’s Lao Service has learned.
The three clinics, Hong Sing clinic in Hong Chareun village, Pafa clinic in Thong Mai village, and Kham Chanh clinic in Chiang village are all located in the province’s Sing district. Four other Chinese clinics in Luang Namtha will remain open under close monitoring by authorities.
“The reason we closed the Chinese clinics is for the safety of patients,” said a local health official in an interview with RFA’s Lao Service.
“We want to protect people’s health,” said the official.
The official said that the clinics were established in 2014 and the three that are being shut down are sub-standard and unsanitary.
A patient who received treatment at the three clinics told RFA, “I was unhappy with the treatment I received because the doctor used a strong dosage of medicine that actually made my condition worsen.”
“They treated me with several unknown medicines and I was not allowed to refuse them,” he said, adding, “I started feeling really cold and my body started to shake. I told them to stop, but the doctors wouldn’t.”
The patient refused to set foot in Chinese clinics again.
“If I’m going to die, I would rather die at home surrounded by my family,” he said.
Another villager from Sing district revealed how three people died visiting a newly-opened Chinese clinic in her town.
Of the three, two were ethnic Akha people and the third, a 48-year old woman named Boua Vanh, was of a highlands ethnic minority.
The villager said Boua Vanh’s husband is contemplating litigation against the Chinese owner of the clinic, who has offered compensation of 40 million kip (about $4,660) to settle.
A local health official who requested anonymity told RFA, “It’s true there are patients that have died in that clinic. Those clinics belong to Chinese but register in Lao names.”
There are other Chinese clinics in Laos where patients have died.
One such clinic in Xieng Khouang province’s Peak district performed an illegal abortion for a woman in May 2017 that lead to her death.
To avoid a lawsuit, the clinic owner paid 172 million kip (about $20,000) in a settlement.
A provincial health official told RFA after the incident that three other women contracted infections after the clinic performed abortions on them.
Authorities closed the clinic shortly after investigating the clinic, finding it had no permit to be open.
There are four foreign-owned clinics in Xieng Khouang province, but only the Chinese one was shut down.
Foreign medical clinics are widespread in Laos, and many are accused of engaging in illegal activity.
In June 2017 Lao officials ordered a clinic in Vientiane to close its doors for illegally employing Thai women to be surrogate mothers for infertile couples.
Laotian authorities are cracking down on many of these clinics and are being more strict with the opening of new clinics, according to an official from Laos’ Ministry of Public Health.
Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Sidney Khotpanya. Written in English by Eugene Whong.