The health sector is confronted with many difficulties, challenges and opportunities for development. With its long-standing traditions, the entire health sector will constantly strive to rise above to serve the country and the people and fulfill all its assigned tasks, thus living up to the trust given it by the Party and people.
In 2020, the world witnessed the rampage of the COVID-19 pandemic with over 105 million cases globally and more than 2.3 million fatalities, affecting all aspects of life. In Vietnam, with the detailed and mindful direction of the Party and the Government; the involvement of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, ministries, departments, branches and localities; and especially the unanimity and active participation of people from all strata of society, the pandemic has ben proactively controlled and contained. In particular, the health sector upheld the tradition of solidarity, creativity and willingness to stand firmly in all hot spots and successfully control the outbreaks, minimise the number of deaths, and curb the spread of the disease. Thanks to this, we have achieved the dual goal of effectively containing the pandemic and maintaining economic development.
In addition to contributing to successes in the fight against the pandemic, with an innovative mindset, the health sector also made many breakthroughs in order to better serve the people. The inception of a remote medical examination and treatment system connecting 1,500 hospitals helps the people access higher-level medical services right at grassroots level, while 97.5 million health records were set up, creating a premise upon which to develop a smart health system. The whole sector actively implemented digital transformation with the introduction of a series of digital health platforms and applications, and the publicisation of drug , medical equipment and service prices, making it more favourable for the people and businesses alike. 2020 also saw innovation in the form of advanced techniques in organ transplantation and conjoined twin separation surgery.
The health sector has determined 2021 as a starting milestone in the process of implementing strong and comprehensive reforms in the sector. This is the first year to implement the Resolution of the 13 th National Party Congress and the health sector has been assigned important tasks on caring for and protecting the people's health in the new situation. The pandemic continues to evolve in a complicated and unpredictable manner globally, with the potential risk of further spreading in Vietnam. Right from the beginning of 2021, COVID-19 resurged in the provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh and spread to 11 other localities nationwide. The fight against the "COVID-19 enemy" is getting tougher with new strains of SARS-CoV-2 spreading faster. Therefore, the whole sector needs to rapidly and comprehensively reform its activities, while inheriting good traditions and promoting its intelligence and solidarity in order to successfully implement the Resolution of the 13 th National Party Congress and continue ensuring a safe environment for the successful realisation of the Government's dual goal for a second consecutive year.
One of the most urgent tasks for the heath sector in 2021 is to continue effectively battling the pandemic as its third wave broke out in Hai Duong and a number of cities and provinces. Promoting the COVID-19 fight experience, we once again mobilised the participation of the entire political system, and have basically brought the disease under control in most localities after just over three weeks. Under the direction of the Government and the National Steering Committee, the Ministry of Health has continued to coordinate closely and promptly support localities to quickly take control of the disease, while working to soon bring vaccines to Vietnam to serve the people as well as strongly accelerating the domestic research into and testing of vaccines.
Second, step up preventive medicine and the fight against the pandemic; promote successes and lessons learnt in battling the disease and quelling the outbreaks; establish regional disease control centres; build in-depth research establishments on epidemiology and pathogens; promote community-based programmes on protecting health and preventing infectious and non-communicable diseases; and implement health target programmes as well as the sustainable development goal on health.
Third, improve the quality of medical examination and treatment towards patients' satisfaction; facilitate people's access to quality medical services; strengthen administrative reforms in medical examination and treatment; increase investment in medical facilities; speed up the implementation of comprehensive care with patients placed at the centre of services; reduce overloads on central-level hospitals; and enhance the development of traditional medicine.
Fourth, strengthen and strongly reform grassroots healthcare in the new situation towards implementing universal health coverage; improve capacity for grassroots healthcare; implement projects to train medical human resources for remote, mountainous and island areas; implement universal health management; and carry out the community-based healthcare programmes for the elderly..
Fifth, comprehensively reform the development of medical human resources; strengthen the social responsibilities of medical workers; improve welfare policies for health workers, especially those working at grassroots health facilities in remote, mountainous and disadvantaged areas; and promote medical workers' creativity and working spirit in the cause of caring for and protecting the people's health.
Sixth, continue to upgrade medical establishments; strengthen management, publicity and transparency in health insurance implementation; and care for policy beneficiaries, the poor, those facing special circumstances, revolutionary contributors and the elderly, ensuring that all people have equal access to health care services.
Seventh, strengthen the management of pharmaceuticals, food and medical equipment; ensuring publicity and transparency in the management, licensing, bidding, and procurement of drugs and medical equipment; publicise the prices of medicines, medical equipment, and medical examination and treatment services; accelerate the domestic production of drugs and medical equipment; promote the development of medicinal materials; tighten food safety management; and strengthen the inspection of medical units' bidding and procurement implementation and strictly handle all violations.
Eighth, implement the health sector master plan until 2045 to ensure Vietnam's health system develops on a par with other countries in the world; continue to streamline the medical apparatus to ensure equal development among different regions; develop medical facilities that are capable of competing against others globally; and boost the integration of medical activities with socio-economic development.
Ninth, improve medical ethics among medical officials and workers, especially young doctors; continue to accelerate the study and following of Uncle Ho's thought, morality and lifestyle; and promptly implement reward policies to encourage medical workers and strictly punish any violations of medical ethics.
Tenth, step up scientific research and international cooperation, including basic science and applied sciences in medicine; strengthen investment in research activities at universities, research institutes and medical examination and treatment establishments; strongly promote the application of Industry 4.0 achievements in medicine; accelerate the research and production of vaccines, medicines and medical equipment; strengthen the role and position of Vietnam's health sector in the international arena; boost bilateral and multilateral cooperation and attract resources and professional & technical assistance from developed countries; and strongly promote professional cooperation between domestic schools, institutes and hospitals and countries around the world.
Celebrating the 66th anniversary of Vietnam Doctors' Day amidst the complicated and unpredictable COVID-19 context, more than ever, health workers throughout the country must be more determined to respond to the calls of the Party General Secretary and State President as well as the Prime Minister on successfully implementing the dual goal of fighting the pandemic and promoting economic development.
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long
Member of the Party Central Committee and Minister of Health
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