An HIV patient receives free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at District 11’s Medical Centre in HCM City. Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - To ensure delivery of HIV treatment services, the health sector in Ho Chi Minh City is accelerating coverage of health insurance for HIV patients as donor funding for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and treatment will end in a few years now that Vietnam has reached lower middle-income status as classified by the World Bank.

The supply of ARV drugs funded by international donors is expected to be used up by the end of next year, said Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy director of the city’s Department of Health.

Health insurance will have to cover the cost of ARV drugs starting in early 2019, Hung said at a conference held on October 18 in HCM City.

The city’s Department of Health has told medical centres in all districts to establish general clinics to provide health examinations and treatment for insured HIV patients.

However, medical centres in several districts are ineligible to establish general clinics because of a lack of specialised doctors and medical equipment.

Pham Thi Kim Hoa, director of Can Gio district’s Medical Centre, said that its public health consulting and support department had long been responsible for providing free health check-ups and treatment for HIV patients.

The public health consulting and support department, however, is not eligible to sign contracts with social insurance agencies to provide health check-ups and treatment for insured HIV patients.

Therefore, the centre has to set up a general clinic which has legal rights to sign contracts with social insurance agencies, according to Hoa.

The centre said it had sought approval for setting up a general clinic, but it was refused because of it lacked specialised doctors, she said.

It plans to transfer treatment of 112 patients to Can Gio Hospital by the second quarter of next year.

District 1’s Medical Centre is in the same situation as it is struggling to set up a general clinic to provide health care services for HIV patients with insurance cards, said Nguyen Van The, director of the centre.

Lack of medical equipment and doctors, among other reasons, have made it impossible for the centre to establish a general clinic, according to The.

Around 1,200 HIV patients are being treated at District 1’s Medical Centre, he said.

Tieu Thi Thu Van, director of the HCM City HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre, has proposed setting up HIV-treatment clinics at district-level hospitals instead of general clinics at medical centres.

Under the proposal, district hospitals would sign contracts with social insurance agencies to provide health care services for HIV patients with health insurance cards.

More than 31,000 HIV patients in HCM City receive regular examinations and treatment at medical centres. -VNA