Deputy PM stresses importance of preventive medicine in caring for public health

Friday, 2017-07-07 04:44:12
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Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam talks with a patient’s relative at Quang Yen General Hospital in the northern province of Quang Ninh. (Credit: VGP)
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NDO – Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has recently held a meeting with leaders of the Ministry of Health in preparation for a project on the improvement of people's health and the population in the new situation, which focuses on the role of the local medical network and preventive medicine throughout the entire healthcare system.

The aim of the project is to better evaluate the role of grassroots healthcare and preventive medicine in the nation’s public health system to introduce innovative solutions and strong resources into the two areas that are regarded as "gatekeepers" or the "root" of the health sector.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that in addition to the outstanding features such as the quick roll-out of the preventive medicine network which has been widely effective in monitoring diseases and altering disease structures, increasing longevity and improving height, preventive medicine and grassroots healthcare are faced with a range of difficulties and do not receive enough attention.

The biggest problem is that mechanisms and policies designed to prioritise treatment, considered as "the face of the health sector reflected through hospitals" leads to the fact that many hospitals have been built but still cannot meet the needs of people's medical examination and treatment.

Meanwhile, the general principle throughout the world is that investment should be made into preventive medicine to limit the number of people admitted to hospitals and shortening treatment time.

For the grassroots health system, despite receiving considerable investment, it is still ineffective and fails to fulfil its task in offering initial healthcare for the people; about 30% of people do not have regular health check-ups and the diseases are only detected when they are at the critical stage.

Deputy PM Dam stated that the focus of the scheme is to consider basic healthcare and preventive medicine as the root and investing in areas that are faced with difficulties. These inadequacies call for strong reforms in mechanisms and policies towards increasing State budget funds for preventive medicine, while using health insurance fund for treatment and examination. Primary healthcare at the grassroots level is funded by both health insurance and State budget.

Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam has said that the sale of non-prescription drugs is the greatest issue of the domestic pharmaceutical industry.

Another field discussed at the meeting was the distribution of medicines and management of prices that have caused social upheaval and halted the domestic pharmaceutical industry's development.

The deputy PM said that the sale of non-prescription drugs is the greatest issue of the pharmaceutical industry. Uncontrolled prescription drugs sold at more than 40,000 pharmacies across the country are the main cause of alarming drug resistance and drug abuse in the country.

Therefore, it is imperative to standardise the drug distribution system, from hospitals to pharmacies, while stepping up mechanisms related to bidding for the purchase of drugs to ensure sufficient drug supply and that patients are given the most suitable and best quality medicines at the most reasonable prices.

The management of retail pharmacies should involve all pharmacies following a code for selling medicines and adhere to laws pertaining to the sale of prescription drugs. Particular consideration should be given to the intensification of centralised drug procurement and management of drugs from the receiving stage to the distribution to each pharmacy. For example, after the renewal of the drug procurement mechanism in 2013, the price of specialised medicines has fallen by nearly 50%.

Regarding traditional medicine, Deputy PM Dam suggested that the project should fully consider combining traditional and modern medicine, developing scientific research on traditional medicine, and providing scientific evidence on the effectiveness of traditional medicine to convince people.

Another focus is health insurance, one of the major and important branches in the healthcare sector that has received active investment for many years but still exposes a lot of inadequacies, including overloading at central medical facilities and wastefulness in local branches.

Discussing solutions for health insurance, Deputy PM Dam affirmed the need for clear separation between public and private investment in the field, while encouraging the private sector to invest in healthcare, especially non-profit investment.

The health sector needs to maintain its progress and calculation for the cost of health services, focusing investment on disadvantaged areas while promoting efficiency of investment.

In order to ensure sustainable health financing, appropriate mobilisation and spending mechanisms should be in place, in which health insurance should be expanded and verified in the form of insurance packages, combining basic health insurance with commercial insurance packages and reducing out-of-pocket spending.