An unhealthy practice
When a doctor prescribes something other than medicine, it can be a bitter pill to swallow for some people.
So it was that when a doctor working for a district clinic in the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế vented his ire on his Facebook page in July, calling for the Health Minister to resign because she wasn’t aware of the doctors’ plight in grassroots-level healthcare centres because she rarely visited them, and prescribing proper policies was not her strong suit, provincial authorities were not amused.
The province’s Information and Communications Department decided to take disciplinary action and slapped a fine of VNĐ5 million on the wayward doctor.
It being common knowledge that the healthcare sector is not in great shape, the public took umbrage at the action taken against the doctor, essentially asking what was wrong with a dose of healthy criticism.
This led to intervention by central authorities, and no less a person than the Minister of Information and Communications issued last Sunday what amounts to a clean bill of health for the doctor, saying his post didn’t warrant either the disciplinary action or the fine.
Somewhat shamefaced provincial authorities have duly backtracked on their decisions and apologised to the doctor, allowing him, hopefully, to get back to work with renewed zeal.
While all’s well that ends well, the swell part of it is that it was a vigilant public that rescued the doctor from the hot water he found himself in.
Blind to a fault
On October 14, sight-impaired singer Hà Văn Đông visited a branch of the Vietcombank in HCM City’s Tân Bình District to open an ATM account. His request was denied on the grounds that since he couldn’t see with his eyes, it was not safe for him (and others like him) to use ATM cards or engage in e-banking.
Đông said "Although I am a visually impaired person, I have not lost the capacity to do things. I can do everything I need in my life. I think we should not discriminate against visually-impaired people."
After being rejected by Vietcombank, Văn Đông went to the ACB branch on Phan Đăng Lưu St, and his request to be issued an ATM card was accepted.
Đông said "I know how to use number keys on a keyboard, so withdrawing money at ATM isn’t difficult for me. If the transaction amount is large, I can ask an accompanying person to help. A lot of the time, the bank staff is willing to help me when I get to the ATM. In general, it is not difficult for me to use ATM cards."
So why did the Vietcombank staff turn a blind eye to this?
One official explained that visually impaired people who want to open a bank card must have a legal guardian. If the guardian is a relative or friend, it is necessary that a notary office confirms the signature of the guardian who is authorized to operate the account of the blind person and withdraw money. Such a guardian is also legally responsible for the visually impaired people.
When a legal guardian is available, visually impaired people can open accounts, have cards and open Internet Banking accounts like normal people, the official said, reiterating that a bank has the right to decide which customers can use their services.
Rules are rules, but the real needs of blind people cannot be blindsided by them. The Government has been vigorously promoting e-banking, so it should look more closely at this problem and find practical solutions.
If not, as they say, there is no one so blind as those who will not see.