issues bonds to improve healthcare
Health Ministry hopes to raise nearly US$250 million to boost local and
|Visitors unable to
squeeze into the waiting room queue outside Ha Noi’s National
Obstetrics Hospital. The Health Ministry’s plan to issue health bonds
is expected to reduce patient overload at central hospitals. — VNS
Photo Viet Thanh
HA NOI — The Government
of Viet Nam and the Ministry of Health (MoH) would issue health bonds in order
to mobilise capital for healthcare sector investment in 2008, said Deputy
Minister of MoH Nguyen Thi Xuyen.
The MoH aims to raise an
estimated VND3-4,000 billion (US$187 – 250 million) from bond sales.
"The mobilisation of
capital, hopefully, will be spent on both local and provincial hospitals at once
to reduce patient overload," said Xuyen.
According to a recent
survey conducted by the MoH and the World Health Organisation, about 2 million
patients or 40 per cent of all patients, go straight to central hospitals
instead of to district or provincial hospitals for health check-ups and
treatment. Bach Mai Hospital, Cancer Hospital K and Viet Duc (Viet Nam -
Germany) Hospital are presently on the list of overloaded hospitals, the three
exceeding total bed capacity by over 200 per cent.
According to professor
Nguyen Ba Duc, the director of Cancer Hospital K, his institution was treating a
rate of 285 per cent of their capacity and could not find a way to meet the
needs of cancer patients without mobilising capital from the private sector.
From private sources,
Hospital K mobilised nearly $5 million to equip medical facilities for cancer
treatment in 2007. In 2008, the hospital expects to mobilise over $5.3 million
more to further modernise facilities and meet patient demand.
Two years since the
Government’s healthcare socialisation policy began, hospitals have mobilised
more than VND2,000 billion (over $125 million) for new facilities. The number is
equal to 10 per cent of the total 2007 State budget for the healthcare sector,
according to MoH statistics.
Lack of professionalism,
facilities and staff at the commune and district and even provincial levels had
led to many patients heading straight to central hospitals, Xuyen said.
The survey says that
around 3 per cent of total commune medical stations (equivalent to more than 300
stations) cannot provide adequate healthcare due to sub-par facilities. Half of
village and hamlet health staffs are unqualified. In mountainous and remote
areas, qualified staff are even rarer, comprising between 28 to 41 per cent of
the work force.
Presently, the health care
system of Viet Nam is divided into 4 levels: commune, district, provincial and
central. The highest level includes general hospitals and speciality hospitals
in big cities like Ha Noi, HCM City and Da Nang. The second highest level
includes provincial hospitals that meet all basic professional health treatment
ministry and sector hospitals, maternity hospitals and particularly remote
district hospitals have very low bed occupancy (under 70 per cent),"
according to the survey.
According to the MoH
statistics, there are few doctors willing to work in remote or mountainous areas
in the northwest, central Highlands and Cuu Long Delta. The doctor patient ratio
is 6:10,000. These doctors account for 20 per cent of the total healthcare human
resources. In some areas the percentage is slightly higher: the northern Delta
area at 22.6 per cent and the southeast at 20.5 per cent. In some other places
the percentages are worse: the northwest at 12.6 per cent and the northern
central provinces at 17.6 per cent.
With capital mobilised
from health bonds, the MoH will invest in and upgrade both human resources and
facilities for provincial hospitals. Commune medical stations, especially in
mountainous and remote areas, will be given priority to upgrade infrastructure
and facilities. Then, the MoH will issue specific regulations for changes at all
Xuyen said that central
hospitals would be planned and built with extended units in the suburbs of Ha
Noi in 2008, with priority given to large and technical projects.
The MoH also planned to
send doctors overseas for training and push private hospital development to
decrease pressure on central hospitals.
"We expect to begin
selling health bonds by the beginning of the second quarter this year. Using
this plan, we hope to remedy the problem of lack of hospital beds for treatment
by 2010," said Xuyen. — VNS