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Experts call for local healthcare rethink

Update: June, 28/2013 - 10:18

HA NOI (VNS)— Medical experts have called for the healthcare system to be strengthened at grass roots levels in order to improve primary health care for people across the country.

Deputy minister of health Nguyen Quang Cuong said at a workshop yesterday that people do not trust the healthcare system at community level due to weaknesses in examination and treatment quality.

"That's why they go to central hospitals for treatment, which creates patient overload at these establishments and increases the expense of treatment, not only for patients but for society in general," explained Cuong.

"It is necessary to consolidate the system at grassroots levels in order to better the primary healthcare," he said.

Ministry of Health statistics show that at local level there are 561 district hospitals, 686 regional general medical clinics and over 111,100 communal health clinics. Over 96,500 medical staff cover communes and hamlets nation-wide.

Figures suggest that around 73 per cent of examination and treatment visits were performed at district and commune levels.

A lack of human resources, medical facilities and medicine stockpiles has weakened grassroots health services, along with inadequate financial policies.

"The poor can only afford to use the often below-par health services at commune level, while wealthier people are more able to use the better services offered at district and central levels," said Vice Director of the Health Strategy and Policy Institute Tran Thi Mai Oanh.

Oanh stressed that only 41 per cent of doctors and 18 per cent of pharmacists in the country were available to help the 72.7 per cent of the population who currently live in rural areas.

She added that only 5 per cent of post graduates and 45 per cent of university medical staff worked in these regions, while most highly skilled medical practitioners moved to work in urban areas, causing an imbalance in human resources throughout Viet Nam.

The Ministry of Health's Finance and Planning Department deputy director Nguyen Hoang Long said that priority should be given to improving the primary health care service for the whole community, including the poor, near-poor, ethnic, mountainous and rural people.

He argued that the country should consolidate medical services and service providers, including commune, district and provincial medical units.

Financial resources could then be mobilised from the whole society and with the co-operation of the private health care system, he said. — VNS

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