HA NOI (VNS)— Health experts yesterday urged the Government to support the nation's ailing health sector as it attempts to overcome challenges implementing the National Action Plan on strengthening Nursing and Midwifery during 2013-2020.
The plan was approved in mid April by Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien in a bid to improve the quality of the public health-care system and better serve the increasing demand for the examination and treatment of patients.
The plan states that by 2020, the country should have 20 nurses and five midwives per 10,000 people, and there should be 15 nurses qualified at PhD level. Currently there are only two.
The former deputy director of the ministry's Medical Services Administration, Pham Duc Muc, said at a meeting held in Ha Noi yesterday that the plan was important as there is currently a lack of skilled nurses and midwifes in the country. He said 70 per cent of nurses do not meet standards of the region.
The country now has 11.7 nurses per 10,000 people, a ratio much lower than regional neighbours, he said. The figure is 61 in the Philippines and 28 in Thailand.
Low standards in clinical training for nursing and midwifery students and the absence of a comprehensive competency based curriculum was holding the health sector back, said head of the administration Luong Ngoc Khue.
He said that therefore there was no guarantee that nurses and midwives would achieve the necessary competencies in line with regional standards after graduation.
Viet Nam, is one of only a few countries not to have established a Nursing Council and Midwifery Council, restricting nurses and midwives from having their say about policies that affect them, he said.
Deputy Director of Phu Tho Province's General Hospital, Ngo Huu Ha, said that the hospital conducted initial assessments of the quality of nurses and midwifes to uncover problems and outline ways to improve these health services.
At present, only 43 per cent of nurses and midwifes working at the hospital graduated from colleges, and only 30 per cent had nursing management certificates, Ha said.
According to Khue, a lack of qualified teaching staff means that training institutions have to use teachers specialising in other subjects to instruct nurses and midwives up to 75 per cent of the time.
He added that training materials for university and college nursing students are not clearly distinguished.
Participants at the meeting said that it is important for the Government, particularly the Ministry of Health, to support the effective implementation of the action plan.
"When nurses and midwives are properly trained, empowered and supported, they can contribute significantly to saving many lives of people, especially mothers and newborns," said the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Viet Nam Mandeep K. O'Brien.
According to UNFPA, the national action plan for 2013-20 shows the strong commitment of the Vietnamese Government to achieve its health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. — VNS