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Private preventative medicine discussed

Update: June, 15/2013 - 10:15

HCM CITY (VNS)— Municipal councillors yesterday suggested that the People's Committee and Department of Health encourage private sector participation in the preventive medicine system to ease the human-resource and financial burden on the government.

At a meeting with health officials, the People's Council members made the suggestion after an official from the department complained about human and financial constraints in strengthening the preventive medicine system.

The official was referring to the lack of facilities and personnel required to combat several epidemics that have hit the city of 10 million in recent years.

Dr Nguyen Hoai Nam, head of the department's medical operations, said preventive medicine centres in all 24 districts have been seeking funds for improving facilities to combat epidemics.

But only a few have managed to get the funds and improve themselves to national standards, he said.

The shortage in human resources for preventive medicine tasks is another problem, he said, adding the system is not good enough to prevent the epidemics that are occurring more and more frequently in the city.

Huynh Cong Hung, head of the council's Social and Cultural Department, said the only way to improve the system is by involving the private sector, which would enable preventive medicine workers to live on their salaries.

"Public funding is never enough for the system to operate well and effectively," he said.

Now a preventive health official who has graduated from university earns around VND2.13 million (US$101) while a nurse gets even less.

Hung also blamed the situation on the poor skills of preventive health officials, saying most of them have just undergraduate degrees.

But other council members feared it would be hard to attract the private sector in preventive medicine tasks rather than diagnosis and treatment, which is more lucrative.

Others called for transparent policies in involving the private sector.

Every year the city spends more than VND500 billion ($24 million) on preventive medicine.

It has 5,046 preventive health officials, or less than 12 per cent of the total number of officials, and just 700 out of the city's 10,390 doctors. — VNS

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