Deputy Head of the Health Ministry's Medical Services Administration Department Tran Quy Tuong spoke with Heath & Life newspaper about family health clinics in Viet Nam.
The family clinic service has been in operation for more than a decade in Viet Nam. Over 570 doctors have been trained for the service. However, the service seems to be less effective than expected. Can you tell us why?
As you know, the family doctor is a doctor who is available to come and treat you and your family at home, so a longstanding and sustainable relationship is built up with patients.
The ministry officially started training family doctors in 2008. Now over 570 family doctors have graduated. Most doctors work at grass-roots heath centres.
This service is still new in our country. Lack of investment, no official title for the doctor in departments of health and other shortcomings have been blamed for the situation.
Private health clinics are developing fast and offer patients the easiest way to access medical services. Some says that family clinics are the same as private health clinics and a waste of human resources. What do you think?
The private health clinic model started in 2003 and plays an important role in providing first aid for patients conveniently and quickly.
However, private health clinics are not able to monitor and treat diseases for long-term patients. Private health clinics are not permitted to treat patients with diseases who hold a health insurance card. They are also not allowed to admit or move patients to other health care facilities.
Family clinics provide first aid, examinations and testing at both the clinic and the patient's home. That way, they can detect diseases early and treat them accordingly.
Family clinics are also permitted to treat patients with health insurance cards, and they can admit or move patients to other higher-level heath care facilities as regulated.
They really help to reduce overcrowding in public hospitals. Patients save money when they are treated at home because they don't have to pay to stay in hospitals.
When the family doctor clinic is effectively operated, co-operation between doctors and patients will be enhanced and shortcomings in examinations and treatment that cause public concerns will hopefully be reduced.
How can a private health clinic shift to the family clinic model?
If a private health clinic wants to shift to become a family clinic, it has to meet standards of infrastructure, medical equipment, medical staff and medicine as regulated by the ministry.
They must also be licensed as a family clinic by the director of the provincial health department.
The Medical Services Administration has been assigned to monitor activities at family clinics nationwide. The ministry will provide detailed instructions about how to set up and operate a clinic soon.
At least 80 clinics are scheduled to open under a pilot programme from 2013-15, and more are expected after. — VNS