An HIV/AIDS patient is given medical consultation. Buying health insurance will help ease financial burdent to HIV/AIDS patients. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc
HÀ NỘI — HIV/AIDS patients have been encouraged to buy health insurance to reduce their treatment costs.
According to statistics, the number of HIV patients with health insurance has increased dramatically to 90 per cent this year from 30 per cent in 2015.
Buying health insurance had helped ease the financial burden on HIV patients because they need to take antiretroviral (ARV) drug for life, Hoàng Đình Cảnh, deputy director of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Department under the Ministry of Health, told Thời Báo Kinh Tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Review).
Medical treatment for HIV patients includes ARV and many tests, never mind their increased risk of catching other infectious diseases which need treatment, he said.
At present, many provinces and cities have reached the target of 100 per cent of HIV patients having health insurance cards.
The Government has stipulated health insurance as a principal fund to pay for ARV treatment as international assistance is gradually reduced as Việt Nam is no longer a low-income country.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc issued a decision on paying for ARV treatment via health insurance in 2016.
Under the decision, governments of cities and provinces had to buy health insurance for HIV patients.
The local authorities could use their budget or mobilise other sources to buy health insurance.
The Government also offers incentives for HIV/AIDS patients to take part in health insurance schemes such as family packages or discounted packages for poor and ethnic minority patients.
By the end of this year, about 48,000 HIV patients would be given ARV medicine paid for by the health insurance fund.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has been working with the Việt Nam Social Security (VSS) to set up a database of ARV-treated HIV patients nationwide to monitor payments for medicine by health insurance.
Private sector’s engagement
Due to the reduction in international funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and control, the private sector is expected to get more involved in providing treatment opportunities for people living with the virus, contributing to putting an end to the epidemic by 2030.
According to head of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Department Nguyễn Hoàng Long, the drop in financial assistance is a considerable challenge to HIV prevention and control.
To deal with the situation, the MoH, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and PATH organisation have launched a programme to promote the engagement of the private sector in the work, he said.
Over the years, the private sector has been involved in HIV prevention and control activities, helping increase access to treatment services.
Since 2015, more than 140,000 people have been tested for HIV through the support of community-based and social enterprises, while various HIV/AIDS prevention and control programmes have been implemented with the support of the sector.
So far, domestic firms have successfully met 100 per cent of demand for Methadone as well as equipment and materials to prevent the infection, which has been delivered free to the community.
Since 2016, eight private clinics have been set up to provide services for HIV-infected people.
Over the past five years, about 80 percent of funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and control came from foreign donors connected by PATH, she said, stressing the need for more domestic financial resources from the private sector.
PATH has connected commercial, social enterprises with community organisations to make up shortages of financial resources for HIV/AIDS programmes, she said.
Currently, 140,000 people with HIV/AIDS are receiving treatment at public health care establishments, along with about 10,000 others using private facilities, including those accepting health insurance. —VNS