While all the communes in Vietnam now have medical stations and 60 percent of them have reached national standards on communal level healthcare, 12.5 percent of them still have no doctors, the Health Ministry has reported.
Besides, the ministry’s statistics also showed that up to 35.4% of the patients who visit central-level hospitals can be treated at both the provincial and district level hospitals, while 20% can be treated at district level hospitals. As many as 41.5% of the patients who go to provincial hospitals can be treated at district health facilities, and 11% can be treated at commune health stations.
The quality of health check-up at the grassroots level are limited due to the shortage of highly qualified doctors and advanced medical equipment so residents tend to go to central-level hospitals for better services and treatment, said Associate Professor, Dr. Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Examination and Treatment.
To overcome the shortage of medical staff, the medical centre in Tran Yen district in the mountainous province of Yen Bai has to send doctors to Van Hoi commune’s medical station every week to provide health check-ups for local residents and improve professional skills of the medical staff, said physician Nguyen Chi Thanh, head of the commune’s medical station.
Although his health station has been equipped with one laboratory and medical equipment, staff has not been well trained to use the machines, Thanh added.
The doctor dispatch to Van Hoi commune is part of the Health Ministry’s plan to rotate medical staff, under which rotated doctors would be sent to work around 2-3 days per week at the medical centres without doctors while some physicians, nurses and pharmacists be moved around in accordance with their needs, said Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.
The ministry has picked 26 medical stations to comprehensively equip with facilities such as ultrasound and testing machines, while their medical staff competencies will be improved within 2018, the minister told a workshop on improving the quality of ward and commune-level clinics operated on Family Medicine principle on September 7, 2018.
Eight out of the 26 medical stations now do not have doctors, 9 of the 26 stations have no traditional physicians and 7 of the total have no pharmacists, the minister said.
In addition, most of health stations have not managed chronic diseases while the quantity and quality of services remain limited. The list of medicines is also restricted while communal health stations have just conducted 50%-70% of technical services. About 40% of the list of medicines is allocated according to levels.
The minister said equipment for the 26 health station will include beds, drug cabinets, boards showing names of rooms and of each medical station, X-ray machines, ultrasound and testing machines.
She also underscored the importance of improving the professional skills for communal medical staff and compiling medical records for patients to control non-infectious diseases in line with Family Medicine principle.
Accelerating grassroots health professional education in line with Family Medicine principle
In addition to improving the competency of primary health care staff at local levels in line with Family Medicine principle, the Health Ministry-run project “Health Professionals Education and Training for Health System Reforms” (HPET) has been organizing training courses on ultrasound scan and masters of doctor in Family Medicine for nearly 2,700 doctors in 15 provinces of the project’s target zone.
The HPET project focuses on increasing the practice competencies of doctors and nurses after their graduation, said Nguyen Hong Quang, Vice Director of the Health Ministry’s Department of Science, Technology and Training.
From now to 2020, the HPET project will continue to provide training courses to more than 15,000 doctors, physicians, nurses, mid-wives and staff working at medical centres of the 15 provinces – Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Son La, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Khanh Hoa, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong, Lam Dong and Dong Thap.
The HPET project was approved in Decision No 2054/QĐ-TTg dated November 11, 2013 by the Prime Minister. Its management board was set up according to Decision No 2222/QĐ-BYT dated June 10, 2015 of the Minister of Health. The project implementation would last from 2014 to the end of 2020. Its funding included US$106 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), US$10 million from the European Union for the project’s Component 3.1, and the counterpart funding from the Vietnamese government.
HPET aims to raise the quality of health professional education and medical management and strengthen the competencies of primary health care at local levels. Therefore, it focuses on comprehensively improving the quality of health professional education and training for some key education programs, the management capacity in the health sector and health professional distribution, and the competencies of local medical staff.