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Ministry of Health calls for more inspections of medical equipment

Update: December, 22/2014 - 08:31

Director of the Ministry of Health's Medical Equipment and Construction Department Nguyen Minh Tuan spoke with Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about the sector's efforts to stop faulty medical equipment.

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) inspector recently discovered medical equipment including thermometers, sphygmomanometers, ECG and X-ray machines that failed to pass quality checks. How do you comment about the situation and who will take responsibility for this issue?

Medical equipment requires correct use and regular maintenance and quality checks.

The MoST's circular 23 in 2013 regulated that hospitals and medical units must take responsibility for inspecting measurement equipment such as thermometers, sphygmomanometers, ECG and X-ray machines.

First of all, hospitals and medical units, especially their leaders, must be responsible for their unchecked medical equipment because they are responsible for facility purchase, use and management. However, they also face difficulties in facility use and management as some localities lack financial resources for regularly adjusting or checking quality of facilities.

We predicted correctly that the violation rate would be lower in big cities like Ha Noi or HCM City and higher in poor and remote localities where there is no quality check system.

As the State management organisation in the medical field, what are the health ministry's responsibilities for the situation?

Medical equipment is one of three factors (along with medicine and human resources) determining examination and treatment results. Therefore, substandard equipment hurts examinations and treatment. The health ministry will collaborate with relevant sectors to strictly deal with medical units that violated regulations.

The Ministry of Health is the State management organisation in charge of promulgating directions and instructions for implementation. These directions were implemented by not only the health ministry but also local medical units and authorities.

The health ministry issued a directive and many other documents to ensure medical equipment quality. Many training courses were organised to improve medical equipment use and management.

The health ministry collaborated with the Ministry of Finance to ask the Government to promulgate a regulation on building a financial mechanism for hospitals to regularly check and maintain medical facilities.

Do we have the capability to check medical equipment quality?

This is a very big problem. For a long time, we proposed the establishment of units for checking the quality of medical equipment. These units would have standardised, highly accurate devices and well-trained staff. In addition, it is necessary to develop an inspection process. Therefore, priority should be given to investment and staff training. However, we have problems obtaining the required financial resources.

We also suggest that the MoST ask the Government for funds to establish international-standard centres for checking the quality of medical equipment. At the moment, the task is conducted by centres of the Viet Nam Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality (STAMEQ).

For the heath ministry, responsibility for inspecting medical equipment belongs to the centre of the Institute for Medical Equipment and Construction. However, one centre is not enough. We think that the Government should invest in the establishment of large quality check centres and draw up socialisation policies to establish private centres that meet conditions for checking, repairing and maintaining medical devices. We need at least three centres like that.

We also need to create a legal framework for the operation of State centres and for private centres later. That would be a good direction for the coming time. — VNS

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