|A doctor examines a patient at the Mu Cang Chai District Hospital in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai. Many patients by-pass local health providers and go straight to big hospitals leading to overloading. — VNA/VNS Photo The Duyet
HA NOI (VNS) — Despite their key role in providing grassroots healthcare, sub-provincial health facilities receive insufficient attention and funding from the Government.
This is one of the problems responsible for the overloading at big hospitals across the country.
Health networks at sub-provincial levels includes district hospitals and healthcare centres. There are also health stations located in communes, wards, towns and villages.
However, many patients bypass local health providers straight to big hospitals.
"Only four or five patients come to our station a day although we also accept patients covered by health care insurance like big hospitals do," said Nguyen Manh Dung, head of the Health Station in Ward 6, District 8 in HCM City. "The reason might be that the residents do not trust local health stations."
This was reflected in the way Nguyen Thi Thang from Ha Noi spoke when she was asked about district health facilities. Thang and her family have ignored local health stations since a sister's near-death experience at one grassroots clinic.
"My sister suffered from appendicitis, but a doctor at the local health station diagnosed her as having intestinal worms and gave her pills to treat the problem," she said.
"As her pain got worse, my family decided to take her to Viet Duc hospital. The doctors there said that if we had been just a little slower, the consequence would have been very serious."
Tran Tuan, director of the Research and Training Centre for Community Development, said many residents felt doctors at sub-provincial health facilities were unsatisfactory.
"Some patients went to the stations for medical tests, but they eventually threw the results away and went to big hospitals to have the tests again, even if it meant borrowing money to pay for fees and travel expenses," he said.
One of the most difficult challenges facing health administrations is trying to hire qualified doctors to grassroots facilities.
In the northern province of Lai Chau, only one or two university graduates went to work in the province despite a talent-recruiting policy by the municipal Health Department in 2013.
Doctors' disinterest in local health stations is due to low wages and the loss of opportunity to advance their skills by treating more patients and attending training sessions.
The poor state of local health facilities does little to attract doctors. A report by the Ministry of Health in 2012 said that 3.7 per cent of communes did not have health-station buildings, while about 28.9 per cent of 10,997 communal health stations were rundown and needed to be rebuilt.
Surveys in some stations, especially those in remote mountainous remote areas such as Yen Bai and Son La provinces, also showed they lacked up to 44 per cent of necessary medical equipment, mostly equipment used in obstetrics and diagnostics.
The Ministry of Health recently drafted a plan to promote grassroots health for the Government by improving funding, said Deputy Minister of Health Pham Le Tuan. — VNS