Delta demands higher healthcare training quota

A doctor from the Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy examines a local woman in a poor commune of southern Can Tho City. Higher training quotas for the university have been requested due to a shortage of healthcare personnel in the Mekong Delta region. — VNA/VNS Photo Trang Duong

A doctor from the Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy examines a local woman in a poor commune of southern Can Tho City. Higher training quotas for the university have been requested due to a shortage of healthcare personnel in the Mekong Delta region. — VNA/VNS Photo Trang Duong

CAN THO (VNS)— Health departments in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have called for a higher training quota for the Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy as the region struggles with a lack of healthcare personnel.

At a workshop held on Monday, representatives of many regional provinces and cities said they need more doctors and pharmacists.

A report tabled at the workshop by the Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy showed that as of last year, Kien Giang Province had the largest number of doctors in public health clinics and hospitals at 922.

Hau Giang Province was at the bottom of the table with just 385 doctors.

The number of doctors per 10,000 people in Soc Trang Province was 3.89, the lowest in the region. An Giang and Tien Giang provinces followed Soc Trang Province with 4.56 and 4.86 respectively.

This situation will persist until 2016 if urgent steps are not taken to address the shortage, workshop participants said.

The number of pharmacists in the region has also been low, with Soc Trang and An Giang having just 0.4 and 0.48 per 10,000 residents.

These localities in particular and the region as a whole need more general practitioners, traditional medicine doctors, preventive health and forensic medicine experts, the workshop heard.

Against this shortage, the region has just one public university to train healthcare personnel, and the number of graduates it turns out every year falls well short of the region’s needs.

The four private universities in the region have medicine and pharmacology faculties, but experts have expressed concerns over the training quality they provide.

For this year, the university has a training quota of 821 doctors and pharmacists.

Training quality

Dr Pham Van Linh, rector of the Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy, expressed concerns over the boom in health personnel training faculties at private universities in the region in particular and the whole country in general.

Viet Nam had seven medicine and pharmacology schools and faculties in 1975 and 19 in 2010. However in just two years, from 2011-2013, the number increased by 13 to 32, he said.

Eleven of the 32 medicine and pharmacology schools and faculties are private, and the quality of training provided by these institutions is worrying, he added.

The institutions have rectors and vice rectors who are not doctors or pharmacologists, and they do not have the professional background needed to ensure quality training, he explained.

Le Hung Dung, deputy chairman of Can Tho City People’s Committee, said he does not understand why the Ministry of Education and Training has allowed private schools to enroll students who have scored low marks in the university entrance examinations.

Such students are not qualified to attain professional knowledge in key subjects like medicine and pharmacology, he said.

All four private universities in the Mekong Delta – Vo Truong Toan, Tay Do, Tan Tao and Nam Can Tho – have medicine and pharmacology faculties that enroll students with scores just one or two marks higher than the minimum passing grade set by the ministry, the workshop heard.

Dung wanted measures taken to prevent the churning out poorly trained doctors.

Tran Thi Thai, deputy chairwoman of the Dong Thap People’s Committee, said that her province would refuse to employ graduates of such schools despite the province suffering a shortage of health staff. — VNS

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