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Investigation launched into mysterious death

Update: July, 21/2012 - 10:02

HA NOI — Officials from the Health Ministry and Ha Noi's Health Department questioned the head of the Dong Da District-based Maria Polyclinic on Wednesday after the mysterious death of a local woman.

Nguyen Thi Thu Phong, 35, was reported to die from unknown causes at the clinic after a health check last Saturday.

Three Chinese doctors who were working at the clinic illegally and who gave Phong treatment have since fled. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Police issued a ban to prohibit them from leaving Viet Nam.

The case is expected to be prosecuted after an autopsy is carried out on the dead woman, said Bui Quang Dai, head of the Dong Da District's Police Division.

At a meeting with representatives of the Health Ministry and the municipal health department, the clinic's head Do Y Na said she found out that the Chinese doctors were working illegally at the clinic in February 2011.

However, Na said she was only head of the clinic on paper and had no power to prevent the violations.

Nguyen Khac Hien, director of the health department, said the question of whether the clinic will have its operating licence revoked will be decided when the cause of the death is concluded.

The department ordered that the clinic temporarily close its operations while an investigation is carried out.

Responding to criticism that authorities are not doing their job in investigating and punishing violations at the clinic, Hien said authorised agencies were not protecting the health clinic and all violations have been dealt with according to the law.

However, Hien said it is difficult to catch and fine foreign health practitioners who work without work permits at local clinics.

He blamed heads of clinics for allowing foreign doctors to work illegally.

To bring the situation under control, the local health department has planned to conduct random inspections at private clinics in the city, he said.

Only four Chinese doctors have been issued work permits by the Health Ministry in the city, and none of them work at the Maria Polyclinic, said Tran Nhi Ha, an official from the city's health department. — VNS

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