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HCMC faces severe shortage of medical workers

By Thu Anh   November 13, 2021 | 02:39 am PT
HCMC faces severe shortage of medical workers
Two medical workers at the medical center of Ward 3 of District 8 in HCMC are on their way to provide drugs and medical equipment to Covid-19 patients isolated at home, August 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Ho Chi Minh City has just 2.3 medical workers for a population of 10,000 compared to the national average of 7.4.

Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, deputy director of the city Department of Health, said there are 310 medical centers at commune and ward levels, with 52 having less than five employees, 173 having six to eight each and 64 having nine or 10.

According to norms fixed by the Ministries of Health and Home Affairs for public medical centers, those in areas with a population of 8,000 can have 10 medics.

"On average, each ward and commune has around 30,000 people," Chau pointed out at a city meeting on Thursday.

He said there are many reasons for the shortage of staff, some related to job policies that fail to attract or retain workers.

Another reason is that private hospitals are developing rapidly and luring away medics with more attractive working conditions.

As a result, the average number of commune/ward health workers per 10,000 people in the city is only 2.31, compared to 7.42 for the country and 6.06 for Hanoi, he said.

The department wants the National Assembly and the city People's Council to amend policies to attract prospective workers to public medical centers.

Besides better salaries, there should also be policies to help develop their careers, including for doctors and others to study further and get promoted.

"This is a significant issue that needs to be handled soon to improve the city’s healthcare capacity so that it will be ready should more pandemics appear in future," Chau said.

HCMC has switched to a strategy of having Covid patients treated at home, and only hospitalizing severe cases.

To take care of the former, the city has been relying on medical task forces in wards and communes.

In the ongoing Covid wave that hit Vietnam in April, HCMC has been the epicenter with more than 445,200 cases as of Friday, almost half the national tally.

Nearly 17,000 people have lost their lives.

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