|Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam should link Millennium Development Goals (MDG) with efforts to strengthen primary healthcare, international experts suggested at the forum "Viet Nam Health Sector: Integration and Development" yesterday.
The meeting, the first of its kind in 2014, aims to discuss co-operation between Viet Nam's health sector and international partners represented by the Health Partnership Group.
Viet Nam's healthcare has enjoyed assistance from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations for years. Periodically, they meet to exchange views on where to focus aid.
"The health sector needs to develop a clear and practical road map for implementation of health-related MDGs until 2015," the United Nations Fund for Population representative in Viet Nam, Arthur Erken, told the meeting.
Erken said that the health ministry should identify hard-to-reach regions where MDG indicators were still poor and the healthcare network, especially primary health care, were not functioning well.
"In these areas, an integrated package of intervention on sexual and reproductive issues, maternal and child health, HIV and basic nutrition should be given highest priority in terms of funding, supervision and technical assistance," he stressed.
They also recommended the health sector focus on providing access to quality maternal and infant care, sexual and reproductive health, including family planning programme.
For Viet Nam, priorities should be focused on disadvantaged people living in rural, remote and ethnic minority areas, migrants, youth and people with HIV, they said.
Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien thanked the international community for its assistance, revealing that at the end of last year, the health sector had 42 ongoing ODA projects valued at over US$1.5 billion, and 108 other projects funded by NGOs valued at $173 million.
The international aid has enabled Vietnamese health workers to improve their professional skills while helped upgrade facilities with advanced equipment. Health programmes have expanded nationwide thanks to extensive aid from foreign donors and the health sector's efforts, she said.
However, Viet Nam faced great challenges in dealing with developments of communicable diseases, she admitted, saying that low expenditure on healthcare, limited coverage of health insurance among the lowly paid and the lack of skilled healthcare workers and medical facilities at grassroots levels were also holding the sector back.
Tien called on the international community to focus support on four key areas. These were health-related MDGs, control of emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases, development of human resources and training for high-technology transfer.
She said the health sector had recorded remarkable progress, especially in health-related MDGs, such as reducing maternal and infant mortality, making progress in control of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and sanitation.
The minister said that the average life expectancy of Vietnamese people had increased significantly- 73 years for men and 77 years for women. All communes and most villages had health workers and more than 70 per cent of communes had doctors.
The same day, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front Nguyen Thien Nhan visited the Viet Nam General Association of Medicine to congratulate the staff on Viet Nam Physicians' Day on February 27.
Nhan expressed his appreciation of the association staff's contributions to fulfilling the mission of public health care and urged them to maintain their passion towards their medical careers so that they might make even greater merits in the years ahead.
The Viet Nam General Association of Medicine has witnessed a gradual growth, having 49 local medical associations and over 200,000 members nationwide. It has actively worked for better healthcare management and improving professional skills for health workers. — VNS