Healthcare Professionals in Laos Under Scrutiny for Low Quality Services

Healthcare Professionals in Laos Under Scrutiny for Low Quality Services
FILE: patients waiting for their queue at a hospital in Laos (photo: Laos Tours)

Social media users shed light on the recurrent issues they face when seeking healthcare in a number of hospitals across Laos. These concerns stem from the apparent lack of dedication from healthcare workers, inadequate compensation, and poor training, according to the critics.

“They are supposed to take care of patients and service them accordingly,” said Douangsavanh Phimmasone, 22, a student at the National University of Laos. “I have faced some [doctors] who ignore the patients, especially bed-bound patients who cannot help themselves. The nurses simply give directions of what to do instead of actually doing their tasks.”

As he attempted to identify the root causes of this long-standing issue, Douangsavanh pointed out the disproportionately low wages of public health workers. He emphasized that these salaries pale in comparison to those in neighboring countries. This often discourages healthcare professionals from performing to their full potential, according to him. 

As Douangsavanh further pointed out, the health service industry is facing growing challenges due to alleged unprofessionalism and insufficient training. However, he recognized that this problem does not normally apply to private healthcare workers.

A resident of Vientiane Capital, Tuk Vongphachan, 22, shared a similar sentiment as she told The Laotian Times about a time she felt berated by a nurse for not knowing how to purchase a new patient book. Such encounters have left thousands of patients feeling neglected and uncomfortable.

Despite these grievances, Tuk expressed sympathy for the challenges healthcare professionals face, specifically referring to their precarious work conditions.

“I do not blame them, though, because if we look at the condition of the health professionals and how they deal with a lot of patients with a low salary, they still need to stick to the job,” she remarked, 

Soukthavy Thanavan, 23, an IT support engineer in Vientiane Capital, suggested that often part of the problem stems from a staff shortage. 

“In some cases, you have to wait for the doctor to come to the hospital, which makes you wonder if some of them work outside or even operate their own clinics,” Soukthavy remarked.

Ketsada Somxayphon, a part-time worker at a convenience store in Vientiane Capital, shared a similar opinion. 

“More professional training is, indeed, necessary. Personally, I think the problem comes from the lack of responsibility and laziness of some medical experts, so if they are the problems, we should fix them first,” he said.

The concerns raised by the residents regarding the quality of healthcare services in local hospitals highlighted a variety of challenges healthcare professionals across the country have long been facing. 

As inflation continues to rise, it becomes increasingly clear that addressing these concerns will require a thoughtful approach to ensure the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals.