Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention under the Ministry of Health (MoH) has taken measures to increase medical insurance coverage among people living with HIV/AIDS, said Deputy Director of the department Hoang Dinh Canh said.

The department is directing local authorities to collect information from patients receiving treatment for HIV/AID, including those who have health insurance, to make plans to expand treatment for HIV carriers.

This will also useful for building a database and updating information related to patients having medical insurance, he said.

The Government has agreed to give support policies for people living with HIV, helping them buy health insurance, Canh stressed.

Statistics from the MoH shows that over 75 percent of the country’s population had been medically insured by the end of 2015, and the rate of HIV carriers having medical insurance had reached between 30-50 percent.

Canh attributed the situation to HIV patients’ low awareness of benefits brought by health insurance, and complicated procedures to buy medical insurance in many localities.

Many HIV carriers have not acknowledged the benefits of medical insurance, some even thought that the anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment is provided free of charge.

He noted that Vietnam will have assistance for ARV cut by international donors
in the near future, which means that only those with health insurance will receive payment for this therapy.

Communication campaigns to raise public awareness of the significance of medical insurance for HIV infected people, and to call for localities’ support for HIV carriers in joining medical insurance, will be intensified in the future.

Additionally, training courses for health workers in the field will be arranged by the department, towards making their consultation for HIV patients more effective, he said.

ARV treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS will be paid by health insurance from this month.

Accordingly, children below 6, poor people, and those from ethnic minority groups carrying HIV receive a 100-percent payment from the insurance sector for check-ups and treatment services. The rate for the near-poor and retired people is 95 percent, while those in other groups is 80 percent.

This is expected to be a sustainable measure for HIV/AIDS carriers, helping them easily access health services such as examinations, HIV testing and preventive treatment.

In 2015, the Government added 60 billion VND (2.7 million USD) to the budget for purchasing ARV drugs but the figure has yet to satisfy the real demand.

ARV therapy is an effective solution for people living with HIV, and preventing the virus from spreading through the community. Vietnam has been expanding free treatment for HIV carriers, with over 100,000 people with HIV receiving ARV treatment by the end of October last year.

Applied in Vietnam since 2004, the therapy is now carried out in 325 treatment centres and 562 medical stations in all 63 provinces and cities.

Preliminary statistics show that about 102,000 HIV patients in Vietnam are being treated by the therapy. Around 95 percent of ARV drugs in Vietnam are funded by international organisations which plan to reduce or even end their assistance by 2017.-VNA