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VN health workers in short supply

Update: April, 29/2011 - 09:56

HA NOI — Viet Nam needs another 79,000 health workers to add to the existing 120,000, a Health Ministry report has shown.

The report, released at yesterday's consultative meeting on health professional education innovation, indicated that the ratio of doctors, nurses and midwives per 1,000 people in the country was 1.4, far below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 2.28.

The shortages are most noticeable in preventive medicine, pathology, food hygiene and safety, medical technology, health statistics and hospital management.

Health personnel with high qualifications, such as doctors or university-trained pharmacists, are primarily concentrated in cities and urban areas in both public and private sectors. Poor working conditions and lack of facilities are given as the reasons for the poor performance of health workers at grass-root levels.

"The health-worker shortage is common for countries in the region," said Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien. The meeting is being attended by heath experts from Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Thailand, China and India.

One report tabled said in the five countries, the ratio of doctors to patients was similar in four, 0.3-0.5 doctors per 1,000 people, except for China, which has 1.5 doctors per 1,000 people. The density of nurses is highest in Thailand (2.2 per 1,000 people) and lowest in Bangladesh (0.3). Viet Nam has 0.8 per 1,000.

India has the largest number of medical schools – 850 compared to 367 in China and 28 in Viet Nam – while China produces the most doctors in the world (553,000 doctors per year compared with 28,000 in India and 3,500 in Viet Nam).

Participants said health equity was necessary to advance health professional education in all countries. — VNS

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