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New regulations needed on combo treatments

Update: September, 26/2018 - 09:00
Workers package herbal medicine at the Traditional Medicine Institute in HCM City. Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY —  Regulations that would allow health insurance coverage for integrated approaches using both Western and traditional medicine should be approved by the Ministry of Health, experts have recommended. 

The combination of Western medicine and traditional approaches is vital for diagnosis and treatment of diseases, according to Huỳnh Nguyễn Lộc, director of Traditional Medicine Institute in HCM City.

However, old medical equipment at traditional medicine hospitals has made it difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat disease in accordance with Western medicine, Lộc said at a conference held on September 25 in HCM City.

Last year, the most common disease at the institute was hemorrhoids, followed by back pain, degenerative joint disease and the after-effects of strokes, according to a report released by the institute. These ailments required long hospital stays and treatments as well as high costs.

Health insurance covers 40-100 per cent of the cost of treatment for these diseases. That often exceeds the price ceiling of health insurance due to the high cost of new herbal-medicine and new technologies used to make medicine.

Many herbal medicines have not been included on the list of medicines accepted for health insurance payments.

Traditional medicine hospitals manufacture herbal medicine, but on a small scale with a limited quantity.

Phan Công Tuấn from the Đà Nẵng Province Traditional Medicine Hospital said there were no policies in place to preserve and develop traditional herbal medicine in a sustainable manner.

Health insurance policies should cover out-patients with chronic diseases receiving treatment with traditional medicine, Tuấn said.

Health facilities are required to follow regulations on medicine bidding, but this prevents traditional medicine hospitals from working with farmers for in-demand cultivation of herbs, according to Trương Văn Hướng from Yên Bái Province’s Department of Health.

He said it was necessary to develop systems to test the quality of herbal medicine. —VNS

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