Ho Chi Minh City will build four hospitals in outskirt districts to ease crowding in central areas, the City People's Committee said at a meeting last week.

The committee approved construction of a Pediatrics Hospital in Binh Chanh District and general hospitals in Cu Chi, Hoc Mon, and Thu Duc Districts, its deputy chairman Hua Ngoc Thuan said.

Speaking at the meeting held to discuss health-related tasks this year, he said all under-six children need to get access to the expanded immunisation, free examination, and treatment programme.

Measures will be taken to stabilise drug prices, he assured.

Pham Viet Thanh, director of the Department of Health, said 650 billion VND (31 million USD) has been earmarked for building new commune – and district-level health clinics and preventive medicine centres and for other major projects.

The doctor-population ratio is targeted to be increased to 13 per 10,000 this year from the current 12.

The hospital bed-population ratio will remain at 42 per 10,000.

The malnutrition rate among under-five children is expected to go down to 5 percent from last year's 6.8 percent.

Twenty commune health clinics will be upgraded to meet standards set by the Ministry of Health, increasing the number of such clinics to 258.

All pharmacies in the city has to meet Good Pharmacy Practices (GPP) standards by the end of this year or will be shut down.

By the end of last year, only 1,535 out of a total of 3,743 pharmacies in the city had received GPP certification.

The Department will work with relevant agencies to ensure that all public and private hospitals in the city are equipped with standard waste-treatment systems.

Last year the number of people receiving health examinations at hospitals increased by 115 percent to 30 million, and the number of inpatients too more than doubled to 1 million./.