Pandemic exposed Vietnam's inadequate preventive care system

By Son Ha   May 29, 2023 | 03:11 pm PT
Pandemic exposed Vietnam's inadequate preventive care system
A medical worker in Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam prepares a Covid-19 vaccine shot, June 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung
Vietnam’s preventive care medical system is still weak and the country’s policies to support medical workers are insufficient, a National Assembly monitoring team reported Monday.

At a session held to report on the management and mobilization of resources against Covid-19, the National Assembly monitoring team said that the pandemic had exposed the weaknesses of preventive medicine in Vietnam.

The team said the organization and workings of the system have significantly changed over the years, but its workforce remains insufficient. Policies to aid medical workers have not been adequate, considering the responsibilities that workers have to carry, the team reported.

Not enough attention has been paid to investment in medical facilities, according to the team.

The teams report also stated that drugs, medical equipment and other supplies "have been limited" while access to medical care at district and commune levels has also been insufficient.

Issues still exist regarding financial and medical insurance policies, the team said.

The report also announced that the ratio between spending for local-level medical systems and healthcare services as a whole nationwide dropped from 32.4% in 2017 to 23.1% in 2019.

Additionally, the workforce available for preventive medicine only satisfies around 42% of the actual demand, meaning there is a lack of 23,800 personnel in the workforce.

Low pay and inadequate benefits, coupled with stressful work environments during the pandemic, have impacted workers’ morale. These are the main reasons that an increasing number of medical workers are switching workplaces, and even quitting the field entirely.

The monitoring team proposed that the National Assembly increase the monitoring of policies and legal systems related to preventive medicine. They also asked the government to present a draft law on the issue to the assembly by 2025 at the latest.

The Ministry of Health has been asked to complete and issue a plan for medical facility networks in each region of Vietnam in order to prevent wasteful investments. It has also been asked to focus more on improving local-level medical facilities instead of just building new hospitals.

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