Hanoi 's municipal Department of Health has initiated a project to reduce overcrowding in hospitals over the next eight years, with a total investment of more than 25.7 trillion VND (1.2 billion USD).

The project's funding will come from bonds, official development assistance and the city budget.

The department has proposed building 25 new hospitals with over 8,300 beds, which will supplement the current 40 hospitals with around 8,000 beds.

Fourteen hospitals will be modernised and six others will be enlarged. It is expected that by 2020 more than 5,200 new beds will be available for use.

The project will also upgrade medical equipment and hospitals in the inner city.

The project aims to reach a ratio of eight doctors and 2.5 pharmacists per 10,000 residents by 2020, up from the current ratio of seven doctors and 1.5 pharmacists, according to department statistics.

Overcrowding is common in Saint Paul , Dong Da, Duc Giang, Soc Son, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Heart hospitals.

The department has reported that many hospitals are operating at over 100 percent capacity. In some wards the rate was even higher: more than 200 percent at Saint Paul 's Paediatrics Ward, 223 percent at the Duc Giang's Paediatrics Ward and 261 percent at the Hanoi Obstetrics and Gynaecology's Labour Ward A2.

The department's deputy director Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong attributed the overcrowding in central hospitals to better doctors and equipment there, drawing patients from far away.

Therefore she said the most important step toward easing hospital overcrowding is improving the quality of doctors and equipment in medical stations at the grassroots level.-VNA