Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan on Feb. 26 urged the Ministry of Health in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Security to improve health treatment for national defence and police forces.

Nhan made the statement during his visit to the Ministry of Public Security's Traditional Medicine Hospital and the 19 August Hospital on the occasion of Vietnamese Physicians' Day (Feb. 27).

He expressed his appreciation for health experts' timely treatment of many patients.

The Health Ministry needs to draft out a national plan to develop traditional medicine and to find ways of incorporating traditional medicine into cancer treatment, he said.

Hospitals across the nation held meaningful events on Feb. 26 in honour of the holiday. Many offered free medicine delivery and health checks, as well as training courses for local health staff.

On this occasion, awards have been handed out by the Ministry of Health to dozens of researchers for their work on vaccines and transplants, which have contributed to saving hundreds of lives in the country.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said the health sector has always focused on scientific research in order to apply modern technologies to the treatment of fatal diseases, especially leukaemia. These methods will help the country catch up with the world developments in technology, health examination and treatment.

Tien said many patients have recovered from serious sicknesses thanks to these efforts.

Dr Nguyen Anh Tri, head of the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, said more than 40 patients have recovered from leukaemia after receiving blood transplants at the centre.

He said the institute now successfully applies the world's most advanced treatment methods, which have been adapted to be suitable for Vietnamese patients.

He said each patient will have to pay 75,000-100,000 USD for their blood stem cells to be transplanted overseas while the procedure costs only 130-300 million VND (6,190-14,285 USD) in the country, not to mention that a portion will be covered by health insurance.

About 100,000-150,000 people annually are hospitalised in Hanoi's Cancer Hospital K for treatment of leukaemia and 60,000 patients die each year of this disease.

Pham Ngoc Dong, director of the Eye Bank of Vietnam Institute of Ophthalmology, said Vietnamese doctors can conduct corneal transplant surgeries that brings sight to the blind in a safer and faster way than ever before.

"There are about 300,000 people who are blind due to cornea-related diseases, and the institute can conduct 100 corneal transplant surgeries per year," he said.

Health Minister Tien said such achievements give hope that patients with potentially fatal diseases will get more attention and investment in the future.

Besides, the health sector will keep raising the quality of the examination and treatment systems, she said.

According to the report of the ministry, more than 80 percent of commune medical clinics meet national standards. Doctors are present in 72 percent of communes and more than 95 percent of communes have a midwife or physician.

The report said outbreaks of many dangerous illnesses such as avian flu, dengue fever and hand-foot-mouth disease were controlled last year./.