|Nguyễn Thúy Anh, chairwoman of the NA's Committee of Social Affairs, at the session on Monday morning in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Phương Hoa|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam must pay more attention and invest more to develop the grassroots health system and preventive medicine nationwide, National Assembly (NA) deputies urged at the ongoing fifth plenary session of the 15th National Assembly on Monday.
The discussion looked at the mobilisation, management and use of resources for COVID-19 prevention and control, as well as implementing policies and laws on grassroots health and preventive medicine.
National Assembly (NA) Deputy Trần Văn Tuấn of Bắc Giang Province said that in addition to the achievements, the COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control revealed many shortcomings and weaknesses of grassroots health and preventive medicine.
The main reason is that preventive medicine and grassroots health have not been paid enough attention, and investment in them is inadequate.
He said that the facilities of many units, especially commune-level health stations, are still substandard.
He said that the quality of medical staff at the grassroots level and preventive medicine is still limited, and the remuneration and salary policies are inappropriate.
Therefore, Tuấn suggested that the NA and the Government should pay more attention and have an adequate investment in the grassroots health system and preventive medicine in the future.
He said it is necessary to build and deploy a project on strengthening the system of grassroots health and preventive medicine to meet the community's demand, suitable for each locality and region.
The Government should urgently review, amend, and promulgate documents on the functions and tasks of the grassroots health and preventive medicine in the locality, said Tuấn.
He added it has to provide more medical and health care services at district and commune-level health stations, creating favourable conditions to promote the role of district and commune-level health stations, meeting the requirements of medical examination and treatment for local people.
It also requires increased investment in facilities, machinery and equipment commensurate with the role of the grassroots health system and preventive medicine; urgently remove obstacles and inadequacies for medical units in implementing financial and autonomy mechanisms, he said.
Medicine preventive: key factor
Thạch Phước Bình, NA deputy of Trà Vinh Province, said he agreed with the contents of the NA Inspection Team’s report on mobilisation, management and use of resources for COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control as well as the implementation of policies and laws on grassroots health and preventive medicine.
However, he said it has to add several solutions to develop preventive medicine and grassroots health in the future.
He said that preventive medicine should be the key factor and grassroots health should be the foundation to ensure people's health care following the Resolution on strengthening the work of improving people's health in the new situation.
Currently, the country has many health stations at levels of communes, wards, towns, villages and hamlets. The stations are believed to be closest to the people, with an expectation to play the role of the front line force in disease prevention, health care as well as screening, early detection and disease control, he said.
However, the stations have failed to meet the people’s demands on health care, he added.
Therefore, re-organising the health system is a radical solution. He said that initial medical examination and treatment should be operated following the family doctor model combined with grassroots health.
Châu Quỳnh Giao, NA deputy of Kiên Giang Province, said that preventive medicine has a very important role in protecting and improving people's quality of life and life expectancy, thereby contributing to socio-economic development.
But, preventive medicine has failed to meet people's expectations in the current situation. The human resources for preventive medicine only meet 42 per cent of the demand.
Disease prevention activities now often focus on infectious disease prevention. In contrast, the burden caused by non-communicable diseases accounts for 70 per cent of the total disease burden in the country, she said.
It is estimated that deaths from non-communicable diseases account for over 74 per cent of the total deaths each year, she said.
Nguyễn Lân Hiếu, NA deputy of Bình Định Province, said the task of developing preventive medicine is the biggest challenge in the current period.
He said the Government should try a new model, considering the commune and ward-level health stations to be the clinics of the district-level health centres.
He said that doctors of the district-level health centres should arrange fixed outpatient visits in a commune and ward-level health stations to examine and treat local people.
He said it is advised to assign more rights and responsibilities to heads of the commune and ward-level health stations so that they can develop their strengths.
Besides, digitalisation of the health sector, including health management and telemedicine, will be the key to the success of the primary health care system, he said.
NA Inspection Team’s report
Nguyễn Thúy Anh, chairwoman of the NA's Committee of Social Affairs, who presented the NA Inspection Team’s report, said as of December 31, 2022, the total amount of money that has been mobilised to serve the pandemic's prevention and control and the implementation of social security policies is about VNĐ230 trillion (US$9.86 billion).
Over VNĐ11.6 trillion ($498 million) has been mobilised into the COVID-19 Vaccine Fund. Việt Nam had received about 259.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, she said.
She said there had been millions of volunteers, especially medical staff, medical officers and soldiers of the armed forces, directly participating in the fight against the pandemic.
People from all walks of life, the business community, the governments of countries and international organisations have directly participated in the pandemic prevention and control and contributed donations in various forms, Thúy Anh said.
The report shows that the management, use, payment and settlement of resources for pandemic prevention and control complied with the issued guidelines and policies.
Authorised agencies have given financial support to people, employees, employers and business households that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting frontline forces and other forces participating in the fight against the pandemic and purchasing vaccines against COVID-19.
They have also supported research and testing of domestic vaccines against COVID-19, procurement of COVID-19 test kits and medical equipment, supplies, drugs and biological products, and paying for medical examination and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
In addition to the achievements, the team also pointed out shortcomings in mobilising, managing and using resources for COVID-19 prevention and control. For example, she said the legal system has not yet fully covered arising situations during the pandemic.
The management, use, payment and settlement of funds for pandemic prevention and control from the State budget during and after the peak period of the pandemic were still slow, causing many difficulties and problems, she said.
Preventive medicine has been consolidated and arranged to streamline the apparatus. By 2022, all 63 provinces and cities have established centres for disease control.
Nevertheless, shortcomings in implementing legal policies on grassroots health and preventive medicine were also pointed out.
The organisation of the grassroots health system is unstable and the management model of district-level health centres has not been uniformly implemented nationwide, she said.
Although human resources for grassroots health and preventive medicine have been improved, they are still lacking in quantity and limited in qualifications and professional capacity, she said.
Investment in grassroots health and preventive medicine is still inadequate and some localities’ expenditures on preventive medicine have not reached 30 per cent of the total local budget expenditure on health as requested in the Resolution No. 18/2008/QH12 of the National Assembly, she said. — VNS