Degraded infrastructure and lack of investment affects health services in HCM City

October 13, 2022 - 08:45
At Hóc Môn General Hospital, medical workers usually wear plastic boots to receive patients; when it rains, the hospital's examination room floods.
Poor infrastructure at the Mental Health Hospital in District 5, HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — The infrastructure and facilities of many healthcare centres and hospitals in HCM City have been degrading for many years due to a lack of investment.

Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward Healthcare Centre in the city's District 1 usually floods after heavy rain.

The head of the centre, Trương Kim Mỹ, said that in the 20 years since she started working there, flooding has become more of an issue.

"The centre has degraded more and more, but when we asked for funding to fix it, the answer is 'you'll have to wait'," Mỹ said.

Phạm Ngũ Lão Ward Healthcare Centre in the same district looks like a small store, with a width of just five metres. The centre has no yard, parking, storehouse or garden for herbal plants.

Doctor Lý Thị Tuyết Hằng said the first floor of the centre only has room for two or three tables.

"The examination area is also the emergency room, where the patients stay and medicines and equipment are stored," Hằng said.

"During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre was responsible for dealing with a complicated area crowded with foreigners. Therefore, health workers must work very hard," Hằng said.

Doctor Đỗ Thị Tân, vice director of District 1's Healthcare Centre, said that the district had ten ward healthcare centres, but seven of them are degraded.

The district-level centre also branches into four locations, with one branch on Trần Hưng Đạo Street for tuberculosis treatment and another on Mã Lộ Street for HIV/AIDS treatment.

Meanwhile, the city's Mental Health Hospital in District 5 is said to be one of the most degraded in the city.

A patient, 62-year-old Ngô Thị Minh Phú, said that she has been in and out of hospital in the past few years and is not surprised to see mossy walls, dirty floors and terrible toilets there.

"There has been no change for years," she said.

At Hóc Môn General Hospital, medical workers usually wear plastic boots to receive patients; when it rains, the hospital's examination room floods.

The hospital director Đặng Quốc Quân said that construction of a new hospital began in early 2021 but progress is slow.

Delayed projects

Hồ Hải Trường Giang, director of An Bình Hospital, said that under a project worth more than VNĐ600 billion that started in November 2021, the hospital's degraded medical examination and treatment blocks should be replaced with new ones.

The work was expected to complete in June this year, but as of last month, the construction site was empty apart from a few workers and vehicles, Giang said.

Similarly, the construction of Củ Tri General Hospital in Tân An Hội Commune is far behind schedule.

With a total investment of VNĐ1.8 trillion, the construction of the new hospital on an area of 60,000 sq.m was started in January 2021 and is expected to complete within 36 months.

Nguyễn Hoài Nam, vice director of the city's Health Department, said that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction work of the units faced difficulties and must be delayed.

Additionally, fluctuations in the price of construction materials have delayed contractors as they wait for prices to decrease, Nam said.

"Through inspections, many contractors said they were willing to pay compensation for the delay. However, if they continue to do the work, they could lose tens of billions of đồng because of escalating prices," Nam said.

In addition, due to the end of the implementation period, some projects had to be stopped and wait for an extension of the construction period.

According to the city People's Committee, in the medium-term public investment plan for 2015-2020, the health sector has 109 projects approved with a proposed investment of VNĐ23.327 trillion.

By the end of 2020, 39 projects were completed and put into use, including the construction project of HCM City Children's Hospital, Gò Vấp District General Hospital, Phase 2 Hùng Vương Hospital, Ear–Nose-Throat Hospital.

This year, some projects are expected to be completed, such as the construction project of Blood Transfusion and Hematology Hospital 2, a high-tech cardiovascular treatment area project at Children's Hospital 1, and An Bình Hospital construction project phase 1. However, most of the other projects are behind schedule. — VNS