QUANG NGAI (VNS)— Pregnant women in the central province of Quang Ngai are avoiding the provincial hospital following a number of maternal fatalities recently.
Nguyen Van Tru from Nghia Hanh District took his wife to Da Nang Hospital to give birth, and said that all the pregnant women in his neighbourhood were doing the same, even though it was more than 100km away from their hometown.
Since the beginning of this month, three women from his commune have given births in Da Nang.
It cost him around VND10 million (US$470) for his wife to give birth in Da Nang City, including hospital fees, travel expenses and daily meals, whereas it would have been just VND1 million ($47) at Quang Ngai Hospital.
"It's quite expensive, but it was our first baby, so safety was paramount," he said.
An ambulance driver who wished to remain anonymous said that every day, all kinds of cars and buses were parked outside the provincial hospital waiting to take expectant mothers to Da Nang.
If a pregnant woman wanted to switch hospitals, she would need to get the go-ahead from doctors, but some insist on going to Da Nang after completing prenatal check-ups, despite not having the necessary paperwork, he said.
On peak days, some of the ‘ambulances' travel three times between Quang Ngai and Da Nang.
A doctor from Quang Ngai Hospital's Obstetrics Ward said that 60 per cent of the women who had prenatal check-ups at the hospital wanted to move to Da Nang Hospital, and every day, at least 20 left for the city.
Talking about the problem, director of Quang Ngai Hospital Nguyen Xuan Men admitted that the hospital had its limitations.
"The biggest problem is the workforce," he said.
The obstetrics ward has 14 doctors, but they are often out on training courses or field trips, and like other hospitals in central areas, we lack equipment and medicine.
Quang Ngai Hospital provided a wide range of health services, not just obstetrics, so many wards did not receive enough attention, said Men.
Due to the lack of equipment and medicine, hospital staff are unable to save premature babies that weigh less than 1.7kg, but central hospitals now have the facilities to care for new-borns that weigh just a few hundred grammes.
The hospital plans to hire more doctors, and is investing in a four-dimensional ultrasound machine to improve the quality of prenatal check-ups.
Doctors from the HCM City-based Tu Du Hospital had been invited to train local doctors, and some of our employees would be sent to Tu Du Hospital to study, Men said.
The hospital has assigned a deputy director to supervise the obstetrics ward, and monitor health examination standards and medical ethics.
Chairman of the Quang Ngai People's Committee Cao Khoa said a project to build an obstetrics and paediatrics hospital with 250 beds was in progress, and was likely to be completed by 2015 at a cost of VND200 billion (US$9.5 million).
Three women had died during labour in the hospital this year, according to statistics from the hospital. — VNS