|Food items sold at many hospitals’ canteens are expensive, so locals tend to buy meals and snacks at street vendors. — Photo courtesy of sggp.org.vn|
HCM CITY — Most canteens in hospitals cannot meet people’s demand as patients and their families often have to purchase food and necessities from street vendors.
Many street vendors sell food outside the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases as early as 7am, according to the Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper.
Though the vendors have been asked to leave by authorities of District 5’s Ward 1, they have continued to sell breakfast, including baguettes and sticky rice.
Vendors also work outside Chợ Rẫy Hospital in District 5 where they ignore fences along main streets, causing serious traffic jams.
At Chợ Rẫy, they sell food as well as towels, soap and other items. HCM City Oncology Hospital, Children Hospital 2, Nhân Dân 115 Hospital, and Hùng Vương Hospital, among others also have vendors who sell similar items.
According to locals, goods purchased at the street vendors are affordable.
Trần Văn Hoà from Bình Định Province, who takes care of his wife in Chợ Rẫy Hospital, said that aside from a main meal donated by some people, other food items were purchased outside the hospital.
“I know it’s unhygienic but it is convenient and affordable to buy food there,” he said.
Phạm Thảo Lan from Vĩnh Long Province said that she had to save money for her child’s treatment.
At the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, each lunch dish sells from VNĐ28,000 – 36,000, a bottle of La Vie for VNĐ8,000, a packet of Hảo Hảo noodle for VNĐ6,000, a bottle of Yomost milk for VNĐ9,000, and a box of Goute crackers for VNĐ57,000.
Generally, every item sells for prices 10 to 20 per cent higher compared to elsewhere.
Hospital staff said that as canteen owners have to bid high prices for their premium locations, they have to charge higher prices compared to street vendors.
In addition to price tags, many patients complain that hospital’s canteens are small, inconveniently located, and do not offer a variety of food choices.
At lunch, Chợ Rẫy Hospital’s canteen serves only three courses. Though it costs only VNĐ22,000 – 23,000 for a meal, the canteen only attracts about a dozen customers.
Children Hospital 1 in District 10 does not have a canteen, but a mini stall selling porridge and two mini supermarkets sell fast food at expensive price tags.
For instance, a small box of sushi costs VNĐ25,000 – 30,000, and chicken rice VNĐ40,000 per plate, among others.
To benefit locals, hospitals should regularly monitor canteen’s operations and draft specific regulations to ensure a quality menu and affordable prices. — VNS