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Health ministry initiates probe into medicine shortage

By Le Nga   August 7, 2022 | 05:01 pm PT
Health ministry initiates probe into medicine shortage
Patient beds fill up a corridor at a hospital in Hanoi, August 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy An
The Ministry of Health has formed four teams to inspect the current supply and use of medicine, as well as survey drug and medical supply shortages in localities.

The teams will be led by members of the ministry's Department of Medical Service Administration including its director Luong Ngoc Khue and three deputy directors.

Khue will lead inspection of the Red River Delta's 25 provinces and cities, as well as the northern midland and mountainous regions.

Of the other three teams, one will examine 14 localities along the northern and central coasts, one will cover 11 localities in the Central Highlands and southeast regions, and the other will cover 13 localities in the Mekong Delta.

Each team will inspect at least one provincial general hospital, one specialized provincial hospital and one district hospital/medical center.

The aim is to document actual supply and use of drugs as well as medical equipment in some hospitals.

The delegations will also assess the shortage of drugs, medical supplies, and equipment and their impacts on the quality of medical examination and treatment, as well as patient and medical staff satisfaction.

The ministry said the teams will identify difficulties and obstacles to propose solutions to central and local management levels to overcome the shortage.

Shortages of drugs and medical supplies have swept through hospitals across the nation, including many antibiotics to treat severely ill patients, narcotic drugs, psychotropic drugs, cardiovascular drugs, hypertension, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The lack of supplies also means the lack of access to certain medical procedures.

The reason for the shortage is partly due to the expiration of the circulation registration numbers of some drugs, a severe shortage of state management personnel, and difficulties in processing dossiers, it has been reported.

The delay is also attributed to national centralized bidding and drug price negotiations. Some localities have assigned hospitals to organize bids on their own rather than rely on centralized bidding, but the hospitals have been fearful about doing this, resulting in a drug shortage.

Several health officials and hospital leaders have said that complicated bidding procedures and low financial capacity after two years of Covid-19 were major reasons for the current supply crisis.

The health ministry has admitted that there is anxiety and fear of making mistakes, fear of inspections and testing. It recently submitted a report to the prime minister proposing the repeal of numerous related regulations.

The ministry also announced Saturday the contractor selection results for three national-level concentrated drug purchase packages worth nearly VND6.3 trillion (over $269 million), which are expected to meet the need for therapeutic drugs.

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