HA NOI — Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien has called on Vietnamese people to use locally manufactured medicine to reduce hospital fees and boost the development of the pharmaceutical industry.
|A pharmacist sells locally manufactured medicine in HCM City. Vietnamese are being asked to use domestic medicine to reduce hospital fees and develop the country's pharmaceutical industry. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
"Using locally manufactured medicine that still cures people from diseases will not only save patients money but also economise financial sources for development," said Tien.
Tien was speaking at a forum held yesterday by the Ministry of Health as preparation for a future movement encouraging Vietnamese people to use locally manufactured medicine.
The movement is expected to act as a chance for hospital managers and doctors to improve drug supply in hospitals.
Health ministry statistics show that the country's total medicine consumption value was more than US$2.43 billion in 2011, of which only $1.14 billion, or less than half, came from domestic medicine. The average drug expense per capita was $27.6 last year.
Although Viet Nam has spent more than $1.2 billion developing its pharmaceutical industry since 2009, drug import turnover is forecast to reach $1.7 billion in 2013.
According to the Health Minister, more than 70 per cent of the country's population live in rural areas and cannot afford expensive imported drugs.
"The increase of locally manufactured medicine to hospitals would reduce drug expense and total treatment fees for patients," she said. "It means a lot to a poor country like Viet Nam with many low income people."
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai asked the health sector and local drug companies to conduct campaigns to promote domestic medicine.
Director of the Viet Nam-Thuy Dien Uong Bi Hospital Tran Viet Tiep said that up to 45 per cent of drugs used in his hospital are domestic products. However, the value of local drugs, which are mainly antibiotics, painkillers and intravenous, only makes up one-fifth of the total medicine expense.
"If local drugs are supplied at reasonable costs, it would help the hospital in disease prevention and treatment," said Tiep.
Deputy Minister of Health Cao Minh Quang said that the movement would help boost the local pharmaceutical manufacturing and trading industry in terms of quality and quantity and increase the chances of exporting local medicine.
The movement will target doctor's prescriptions to reduce medical and treatment fees. Favourable conditions would also be created for drug manufacturers to increase the quality of locally produced medicine, reduce prices and improve competition.
The country has 178 drug manufacturing companies, including 98 western medicine production companies and 80 traditional medicine companies. — VNS