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Mekong Delta struggles with acute shortage of specialist doctors

Update: August, 04/2017 - 11:27
Mekong Delta region will have nine doctors per 10,000 populations by 2020. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Sang
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The Mekong Delta region lacks doctors to treat major ailments like tuberculosis, leprosy and mental illnesses, as also surgeons and forensic experts, health department representatives said at a conference in Cần Thơ City on Tuesday.

The region has 160 general and specialist hospitals including 21 that are specialised in treating tuberculosis and other lung diseases, leprosy and mental illnesses. But all these facilities lack qualified doctors and other personnel, and the problem is set to get much worse.

Of just 152 specialist doctors, around 50 per cent of the 152 doctors will retire by 2020, the conference heard. 

The 12 provinces and a city in the delta region have 13 forensic science centers but they have only four forensic pathologists.

Of the 13 localities that make up the Delta – 12 provinces and a city, as many as eight do not have any doctor with expert knowledge of treating leprosy. In five localities, there was no surgeon in the oncology department.

Bùi Thị Lệ Phi, head of the Cần Thơ Department of Health, suggested that students doing intermediary courses (in nursing or pharmacology) who want to study further and become doctors should be given opportunities to do so, and further specialisation should be encouraged.

He said training quotas to allow such transfers should be increased at the Cần Thơ University of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Health department officials from the provinces of Tiền Giang and Bạc Liêu backed Phi’s suggestion.

A representative of Southwestern Steering Committee suggested that the university expands its programmes so that it meets increasing human resource needs of the region. A university representative said that it would act accordingly.

By 2020, the region will have nine doctors and two pharmacists per 10,000 people, it is estimated. The current figures are 6.8 and 1.9, respectively.

Doctors quitting

Another problem facing the region is that many doctors want to quit and leave the delta.

Vĩnh Long Province’s Health Department said 10 doctors at the provincial general hospital have applied to quit.

A Long An Health Department official said several good doctors in the province have quit their jobs and moved to work in HCM City.

The low salary at public hospitals is one of the reasons, representatives said, adding that the difference in salaries between provinces and city also made it difficult to retain doctors.

The conference was organised by the Cần Thơ University of Medicine and Pharmacy in co-operation with the Southwest Steering Committee. —VNS

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