Yangon Region’s Department of Health has uncovered scores of unlicensed medical clinics across the city, an official says.

Department head Dr Aye Ko Ko said his department had instructed township supervisory committees to being checking all private clinics in July. Most committees found at least three or four unlicensed clinics in their township, he said, the majority of which specialise in Chinese traditional medicine.

The instruction also ordered committees to close facilities that do not have an operating licence, or are found to be offering services beyond what they are permitted to carry out.

“We have not punished them by law if they do not have a valid licence, or if the doctor who is on the licence is not there or has been replaced with another doctor who is not mentioned on the documents,” Dr Aye Ko Ko said.

“When we discover these cases we close them for a fortnight or a month and we have permanently closed one clinic that was found to be seriously breaking the law.”

The clinic that was permanently shuttered was found to be performing surgical operations, including abortions, that it was not permitted to undertake.

He added that officials will continue checking all clinics for the next two months and then bring legal action against healthcare providers found to be continually in breach of the law.

The law for private healthcare providers states that any person offering healthcare services without a licence faces a jail term ranging from one to five years and may also be fined.

Dr Aye Ko Ko added that the department has so far uncovered more traditional healthcare clinics breaking the law than Western medical clinics. He said some traditional health practitioners were under the erroneous assumption that they did not need licences to operate.

Traditional medicine providers must have a licence from a registered traditional medicine university. Foreign traditional medicine practitioners must have a licence from the department, as well as relevant documents from their country of origin, said U Kyaw Soe a spokesperson for the Traditional Medicine Department in Nay Pyi Taw.

“But we have not given any licences or permission to foreign traditional medicine providers yet,” U Kyaw Soe said.

Chinese traditional medical clinics are popular for curing bone and joint-related pain and can be widely found in downtown Yangon.

Last month, Minister for Health Dr Pe Thet Khin warned the public to be careful of Chinese traditional medical clinics because many do not follow government instructions, even when they are told to close down.

Retired medical superintendent Dr Ba Shwe said illegal clinics began appearing in Yangon in 2000 because the government stopped inspecting clinics regularly. He added that some opened only temporarily in order to avoid paying tax or to provide illegal services, including abortions.

Clinics in Yangon Region are required to pay an annual licence fee of K40,000, municipal tax of K60,000 and  government tax of K40,000. There are 45 private hospitals, 215 special clinics and 2405 general clinics that are registered with the Yangon Region Department of Health, according to official figures.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/7903-health-dept-cracks-down-on-unlicensed-clinics.html