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Archive for the ‘Vietnam Health’ Category

Health ministry announces 3 swine-flu deaths

In Vietnam Health on January 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

A sensor checks the body temperature of passengers at HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat Airport to detect suspected swine flu cases (File photo: Tuoi Tre)

The Ministry of Health said January 20 that three people died of swine flu, including two children.

A two-year-old girl in Tien Hai District, Thai Binh Province, died after contracting the A/H1N1 virus, which caused serious malnutrition and rickets.

The other child to die was an eight-year-old boy in Lang Son Province who was first transferred to the Bac Giang Hospital and then the Central Children’s Hospital in Hanoi where he passed away. 

The third death was that of a man, 39, in Y Yen District, Nam Dinh Province, who died after being transferred to the Central Tropical Diseases Hospital in Hanoi from the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, where he was being treated for a blood-related disease.

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Gov’t shouldn’t charge poor for healthcare: official

In Vietnam Health on January 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

In the midst of public discontent over new State-issued health insurance regulations, the Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Social Insurance Office Cao Van Sang has said he disapproves of poor patients having to pay for medical care. The underprivileged and those with chronic or incurable diseases simply cannot afford to pay treatment fees, he said.

Cao Van Sang, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Insurance Company expresses his disapproval of insured patients co-pay treatment fee

Under the new regulations, which took effect January 1, disadvantaged patients are required to pay 5 percent of medical treatment charges; but for many who barely make ends meet, this is still too high, Mr. Sang said.

The Insurance Company director said HCMC has done a good job of implementing the new policies and that over four million new insurance cards have been issued.

Healthcare workers have complained, however, of ambiguity and difficulty in executing the new regulations.

For instance, the Health Insurance Department (under the Ministry of Health) said insurance cardholders could still use their old cards one last time, but must then replace them.

Many complained that this was not made clear before the new rules took effect and thus led to much confusion.

Mr. Sang said that in the past, the law stipulated that patients must pay a portion of treatment fees, but this was later abandoned. The new regulations have brought the fees back, but policymakers and the National Assembly ought to have rejected this, he said.

Parents are also now charged for a portion of their children’s medical treatment, while insurance covers only up to around VND29.2 million (US$1,578). The cost of heart surgery for a child can run up to tens of millions of dong, however. Families that can’t afford such surgery must ask for support from district governments.

Tong Thi Song Huong, head of the Health Insurance Department, said at a recent meeting of the Ministry of Health and the Vietnam Insurance Company that while many difficulties have arisen, medical staffs have done a good job of easing patients’ concerns.

The conference, held in Hanoi on January 21, discussed the first 20 days of implementing the new insurance policies and what was left to be done.

During the meeting, Ms. Huong proposed using the charitable “Fund 139” to help poor patients who are unable to afford hospital fees.

Following Ms. Huong’s proposal, the ministry will ask the government to allow the Fund 139 to assist the poor in covering treatment charges. Hospitals throughout the country will compile information on poor patients and submit a report to the ministry for consideration. The ministry has said it will change the law if necessary to help poor people afford healthcare.

Related article:
Frustration mounts over new health insurance policies
Kids, chronic patients suffer most with new health insurance

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Frustration mounts over new health insurance policies

In Vietnam Health on January 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Ho Chi Minh City residents continue to complain that new health insurance regulations, which took effect January 1, are not clear and that new treatment fees are too high.

Healthcare staffs, meanwhile, have been run off their feet trying to explain the new insurance policies, which has led to long line-ups and wait times for patients.

A group of elderly women at HCMC’s Cho Ray hospital complains they are weary of the long lines and treatment delays at the facility.

Insurance card holders wait to take drugs at the People’s Hospital 115 ( Photo: SGGP)

Ms. N.T.H from the southern province of Tay Ninh said she spent half a day waiting to see a doctor, but was told to go back to her hometown for further examination because of a backlog of patients.

She had originally wanted to receive treatment near her home anyway, but doctors in N.T.H.’s local district were incapable of treating her illness so she was forced to visit a major city hospital, she said.

Confusion over the new policies has plagued the city’s Tumor Hospital in Binh Thanh District. Despite efforts to reduce waiting times to see doctors, including hiring more receptionists to explain the new regulations, frustrated patients crowd every corner of the hospital.

An unrelenting flurry of questions over insurance cardholders’ new policies and rights has also slowed down operations at the Trauma and Orthopedics Hospital in District 5.

Staffs have been working flat out to deal with hundreds of patients filing through a 10-square-meter room while handling stacks of documents. Receptionists complain that despite several explanations, many patients still don’t understand the new regulations.

In some cases, the receptionists themselves were confused about how the policies applied to certain situations.

For instance, patient Le Cao Tien from District 5 came to the Phuoc An General Clinic after he broke his finger in a traffic accident. The clinic, however, decided to transfer him to the Trauma and Orthopedics Hospital where he was asked to pay VND4 million up front.

He objected to the fee, saying that as insurance holder, he was exempt from having to pay. But Nguyen Thi Thu Lieu from the Trauma and Orthopedics Hospital said that according to the new regulations, Mr. Tien would first have to submit a report from the traffic police documenting his accident and outlining whether or not he was at fault.

Mr. Tien would therefore have to pay the treatment charge up front and would be reimbursed later by his insurance company if it was determined the accident was not his fault.

The new regulations also stipulate that patients must pay between 5 and 70 percent of treatment costs, which has caused poor patients much anxiety. Those who suffer chronic ailments, such as kidney disease, are also upset by the new guidelines as they will now have to pay fees on a regular basis.

N.V.Phi, whose wife has suffered chronic kidney disease for the past decade, said his wife had to go without her medication when the new regulations took effect as they had no money to pay for it. They are homeless and subsist on free meals provided by charity groups as they were forced to sell their house to pay for the woman’s treatment.

Many other patients nationwide have also been forced to stop life-saving treatment for chronic diseases and cancer because their drugs are not covered under the new insurance policies.

At a recent meeting, Nguyen Van Chau from the HCMC Department of Health raised concern about such patients. Deputy head of the Tumor Hospital Pham Xuan Dung, meanwhile, said the new rules are also unfair to children under six as some of them with cancer must stay for long periods in the hospital and their families can’t afford it.

Le Hoang Minh, director of the Tumor Hospital, said; “Being a doctor, I can’t let my patients die because of financial inability.”

The Tumor Hospital has supported some poor patients with money from a program called the Golden Heart fund; however, the fund’s resources are limited.  

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Vietnam continues swine-flu vaccination despite charges of scam

In Vietnam Health on January 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

People wear face masks at a public place for fear to contract H1N1 virus. WHO is accused to exaggerate tje threat of swine flu to cause panic and sell vaccine

The Ministry of Health is continuing its vaccination campaign against swine flu since it has yet to hear officially from the World Health Organization about the accusations that drug firms are exaggerating the threat to cause panic and sell their vaccines, an official said.

The ministry has accepted vaccines supplied by the WHO, Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga, head of the ministry’s Preventive Medicine and Environment Department said at a meeting of the National Steering Committee on Human Flu Prevention on January 13.

While WHO has not formally responded to the accusation, some European nations have announced cancellation of vaccine orders.

WHO began an initiative to ensure several low- and middle-income countries get access to the vaccines. Of 35 nations seeking them, Mongolia was the first to get it and Thailand will vaccinate 2 million people this week.

Vietnam has so far reported 11,114 infections, including 53 deaths. In the past week some people have been taken to hospital with severe pneumonia but no deaths have been reported.

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HCMC hospitals admit children under 5 with dangerous Kawasaki disease

In Vietnam Health on January 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

Two Ho Chi Minh City pediatric hospitals reported January 14 they have admitted several children with suspected Kawasaki disease that could lead to heart-related complications.

A 14 month old child infected Kawasaki is treated at the city Children Hospital I

The exact cause of the disease is not known despite much research but the children have symptoms like redness and swelling of the lips, tongue, and oral mucous membrane, dark rings around the eyes, and high fever.

It typically affects kids below five.

The cardiac ward at Children Hospital I has up to three children to a bed. Most had been diagnosed with dengue fever by small clinics in their districts.

Doctors at the hospital said until five years ago there were around 20 cases a year. But the disease is in an uptrend, with the number going past 100 last year.

Medical experts said Kawasaki is a dangerous disease that can lead to serious complications of the heart.

The fatality rate is around 1 per cent and half of patients died during two first months.

The disease is named after Dr Tomisaku Kawasaki, the Japanese doctor who first identified it in 1967, Dr. Vu Minh Phuc, head of the cardiac ward at Children Hospital I, said.

Because the cause of the disease remains unknown, doctors treat the symptoms which are similar to those of dengue fever and bronchitis.

They try to reduce inflammation in the child’s body and prevent a coronary artery aneurysm from forming.

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Authorities raise alarm over cadmium-tainted Chinese jewelry

In Vietnam Health on January 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

A jewelry shop in Hong Kong

Following reports that some Chinese jewelry makers are using cadmium, a highly toxic metal, after being banned from using lead, the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality (STAMEQ) has ordered an immediate investigation.

It has instructed the Department of Goods Quality Management and other concerned agencies to destroy jewelry that are found to contain cadmium or other toxic substances.

Dr. Le Van Cat, head of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology’s Institute of Chemistry, said cadmium is a heavy and very toxic metal that is less dangerous than only lead and mercury.

Extended exposure to it can cause lung and prostate cancers.

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Drug watchdog orders tough action against HCMC drugstore chain

In Vietnam Health on January 13, 2010 at 8:36 am

HCM City Market management inspectors check drugs at an outlet of My  Chau at 338 Le Van Sy Street, district 3 on Jan. 8, 2009 ( Photo: Tuoi tre)

The Drug Administrations of Vietnam has ordered the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health impose severe punishment on the My Chau drugstore chain for possessing hundreds of containers of expired and unregistered drugs and food supplements.

In a dispatch January 12, Nguyen Viet Hung, deputy head of the administration told the DoH to also review its certification of My Chau for Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) and report back.

Tran Quang Trung, chief of Ministry of Health (MoH) inspector, ordered the DoH to liaise with the city Market Management Bureau to find out My Chau’s violations and report to the ministry.

During routine checks in the last two years, ministry inspectors detected several wrongdoings by My Chai but did not investigate further, instead ordering the drugstore itself to fix them since it had just been awarded a GPP certification.

They also admitted they failed to discover the violations uncovered recently by the Market Management Bureau because they were unable to enter warehouses during their inspection.

Mr. Trung said the DoH must be held accountable for the violations because it had certified that seven out of My Chau’s 18 outlets conform to GPP standards.

Le Dinh Bach, manager of Minh Phuc Pharmacy, who owns  My Chau drugstore chain, wrote to Sai Gon Giai Phong January 12 claiming it has reported wrongly about his company’s activities.

His company bought 10 outlets and a warehouse from Y Duc last April and discovered some expired drugs in stock. They remained in storage until documents for their destruction could be made, he claimed. Unfortunately, at that time, his boss and director, Le Thi My Chau, went abroad for six months, causing a delay in drafting the documents, he said.

He also claimed his company did not pay much attention to the origins of the drugs that were in stock when it bought the operations. 

Related article:
Health department under scanner as drugstore chain caught with expired drugs
HCMC drugstore chain faces closure for violations

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2010 poultry vaccination plan to launch soon

In Vietnam Health on January 11, 2010 at 5:55 am

Poultry nationwide will be vaccinated to prevent against bird flu

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development January 9 announced a vaccination plan for poultry across the country.

Under the plan, all provinces nationwide must strictly abide by vaccine regulations to prevent disease like bird flu from spreading.

Local governments will carry out two rounds of vaccinations; the first in April and May; and the second in October and November.

Thirty-two provinces including 13 northern provinces, five provinces in the southeast southern region, and 13 Mekong delta provinces will vaccinate birds.

Other provinces are not required to hold mass vaccinations except in high-risk areas.

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Free-milk-for-kids program to be revised: MoLISA

In Vietnam Health on December 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Students of Binh Khanh Primary School in HCMC’s district Can Gio drink milk supplied by the program. MoLISA asks  to rework the project to allow more disadvantaged children to benefit

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) December 26 ordered its subdivision, the Administration for Protection and Care of Children, to set up a new project to provide free milk for young children.

Plans for the “Providing milk to pupils” project must then be quickly submitted to the government for approval, MoLISA added.

The project was formerly titled “Six Million Glasses of Milk for Vietnamese Kids Fund,” launched by the Vietnam Dairy Products Company, the National Fund for Vietnamese Children, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the National Institute of Nutrition.

Speaking at a meeting to review the Six Million Glasses program, MoLISA Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the fund provided only around 50,000 servings of milk to students in 30 primary schools; and disadvantaged children including orphans, disabled and undernourished toddlers nationwide.

MoLISA has therefore asked its subdivision to rework the project to allow more disadvantaged children to benefit.

The program was first established in 2003 with investment of US$150 million aimed at providing free milk to primary children and first graders.

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Dog meat, vegetables test positive for cholera

In Vietnam Health on December 23, 2009 at 11:35 am

A recent inspection of northern eateries serving dog meat, vegetables and shrimp paste has revealed alarming unhygienic practices and the presence of cholera bacterium in some foods.

Tran Nhu Duong, deputy head of the Hanoi-based National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, told a seminar December 22 that health inspectors had recently investigated some 30 street eateries selling dog meat in Hanoi.

Twenty-five of the eateries were found operating without a food safety and hygiene certificate; 15 prepared food next to a restroom; 19 used unwashed raw vegetables; and 27 served day-old meat.

More worrying, samples of vegetables, dog meat and shrimp paste taken from restaurants and markets in Hanoi and the northern provinces of Hai Phong, Hai Duong, and Thanh Hoa had tested positive for the Vibrio cholera bacterium, said Duong.

The bacteria, spread through contaminated water or food, causes acute intestinal infection which can lead to death if left untreated.

Although cholera in Vietnam has not been as prevalent this year as in the past, 471 cases have been reported in 15 provinces nationwide with one fatality in the northern province of Ninh Binh, said the Department of Preventive Health and Environment.

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