Vietnam Plans More Spending on Medical Equipment

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MOH) recently announced plans that will include increased purchases for the country’s national health system. On August 10, 2006, at a national conference, the MOH announced it would upgrade the communal medical stations in villages and city wards. These stations are designed to provide most of the country with basic healthcare. The planned amount of spending is VND 4.77 trillion (about US$300 million) over the period from 2007 to 2010. This spending will go to upgrading facilities and equipment and hiring more workers. The Health Minister said that today only 60% of medical stations were adequately equipped and staffed.

Following this, an MOH announcement on August 17, 2006 described another purchasing program totaling VND 20.15 trillion (about US$1.25 billion). This program is targeted at the country’s provincial-level hospitals. Of the total, VND 7.26 trillion (about US$450 million) is to be spent on existing hospitals, and 98% of that will go to purchasing new medical equipment and the rest to improving staffing. The rest of the investment, VND 12.89 trillion (about US$800 million) will be used to build new hospitals. The announcement also said some medical devices particularly lacking include oxygen supply systems, CT scanners, and endoscopic equipment. The MOH hopes that increasing the capacities of the more advanced provincial hospitals will also reduce the demand on national hospitals. Most of the money needed will come from development assistance from other countries.

These announcements come after the cabinet approved a general plan in July 2006 to further develop the country’s health system. The plan includes increasing patient capacity and bringing more medical institutions up to national standards.