HA NOI — The National Paediatric Hospital is often overcrowded with long wait times because district level hospitals and commune medical stations lack paediatricians.
|A doctor examines a child with dengue fever at Paediatric Hospital No 1 in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
The Van Quan Ward medical station is deserted even though it is located right in the centre of Ha Noi's Ha Dong District as local residents opt to bring their sick children to private consulting-rooms or the National Paediatrics Hospital.
One local resident said that the medical station did not have a paediatrician on staff and it did not offer all vaccinations, such as the vaccination for influenza.
The Cau Dien Town medical station has the necessary modern equipment to conduct comprehensive exams but does not have a paediatrician on staff so residents rarely take their children there for health checks.
Director of the Tu Liem District medical station Nguyen Van Phi said that it was not easy to attract patients to medical stations.
Last year, the district's 16 medical stations and two polyclinics saw 44,000 patients, "a small number compared with the stations' equipment," he said.
Meanwhile, director of the National Paediatric Hospital Nguyen Thanh Liem said that the hospital saw 1,500 patients everyday but only had 600 beds. On average, each doctor saw 70 patients per day.
The HCM City-based Paediatrics Hospitals 1 and 2 also receive more than 3,000 patients per day.
Liem said that the number of casualties among newborns remained high as central hospitals were overcrowded and could not ensure quality treatment.
Recent statistics from the Viet Nam Association of Paediatrics show that 85 per cent of patients suffering from heart disease had innate heart diseases, and 50 per cent of hospitalised newborns died within one day of being admitted for emergency treatment because they did not receive proper emergency aid at lower-level hospitals.
Nguyen Thi Giang Huong, head of the Management and Training Division under the Ha Noi Medical University, said children under the age of six had been eligible to receive free health checks at State hospitals since 2005 following the Law on Protection, Care and Education of Children. This law has led fewer medical students to pursue a degree in paediatric medicine because of the stressful work and low income.
Some hospitals offer paediatricians a supplement equal to 25 per cent of the basic salary, which provides them with VND500,000 (US$23) extra each month, but the measures were ineffective, she said.
The Ha Noi Medical University has opened six-month paediatrics courses for post-graduate students but only 10 people register for the classes each year.
The university submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Education and Training seeking to include paediatrics among the faculties eligible for the university entrance exam and to reduce school fees by 30 per cent to attract more people to the speciality, said Huong. — VNS