A third go to Vietnam and Thailand

According to an article in The Phnom Penh Post, the number of outbound Cambodians travelling for medical purposes and holidays in general rose from 1.2 million in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2016, out of a population of 15.76 million. No source of this data was given. The article says that between 24-30% of Cambodian tourists travel to Vietnam and Thailand for treatment, but admits that there is no complete set of statistics on outbound medical travel from Cambodia.

The article claims that more and more Cambodians are going abroad to access healthcare services, although it does admit that there is no complete set of statistics examining the total number of Cambodians seeking medical care abroad.

The article states that in reality, health facilities in Cambodia lack sufficient human capital and resources, which prevents them from meeting the needs and expectations of the population. It cites a recent study, where public health facility users complained of a lack of hygiene and the high cost of service at Cambodia’s local hospitals. The article also points out that the questionable nature of professional ethics among doctors and codes of medical conduct are of the greatest concern for Cambodian patients. Some physicians, for example, have been found to exaggerate patient diagnoses or provide false information if it proves beneficial to them.

The article says that Secretary of state at the Ministry of Health Dr Heng Taikry has acknowledged that while some hospitals, such as Phnom Penh’s Calmette, have equipment on a par with that found in Singapore, there are not enough qualified staff to ensure a high level of treatment.

The article recognises that, while some Cambodians travel abroad for medical reasons, the Kingdom has become a regional dental hub, attracting people from across Southeast Asia to receive treatment in the Kingdom. With dentistry costing much less than in neighbouring countries – often up to as much as 70% cheaper – Cambodia has gained a reputation as a major dental tourism destination.

IMTJ reported last year that the Ministry of Tourism in Cambodia had said 1.75m had travelled abroad for ‘medical purposes and for vacationing’.

For further analysis of outbound medical travel from Cambodia, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.