Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Health Ministry has instructed hospitals under its control and specialised clinics to establish gerontology faculties with a view to improving health care services for elderly people.

Despatch No 2244/BYT-KCB requests Health Department of provinces and centrally-run cities to draft criteria for gerontology faculties at hospitals at provincial and municipal level.

Meanwhile, hospitals under the Health Ministry’s direct management and specialised hospitals, except children’s hospitals, follow the criteria set by the ministry.

Depending on each hospital’s scale, the gerontology faculties should account for at least 10 percent of the hospital’s beds but should not be less than 30 beds.

The Health Ministry’s instruction also recommends hospitals designate functional rehabilitation space of at least 30 sqm exclusively for elderly patients. In case a hospital cannot afford exclusive space, it should coordinate the work of the gerontology and functional rehabilitation faculties to ensure that elderly patients being cared for at the gerontology faculty can receive rehabilitation treatment.

Vietnam officially entered the phase of aging population in 2011. The country currently has around 10.1 million elderly people 60 years old and above, or 11 percent of the population, of whom 2 million are at least 80 years old.

It is forecast that the ratio of elderly people in the population is expected to rise to 18 percent in 2030 and 26 percent in 2050.

The Health Ministry approved a national action plan on health care for the elderly in December 2016, which aimed to improve health outcomes for older people in the 2017-25 period.

Experts said geriatric care in Vietnam faces a range of difficulties. An increasing number of older patients put an ever-growing burden on the already struggling healthcare fund. Most diseases that afflict older people are chronic and non-communicable, requiring frequent check-ups, constant monitoring and medications.

The geriatric healthcare component in the general healthcare system has not caught up with the drastic demographic change.

The action plan aims to remedy this critical shortage by requiring that all city-level and provincial-level hospitals have gerontology faculty.

Currently, throughout the country, only 49 out of 69 city-level and provincial-level hospitals have gerontology faculties, and only three institutes offer gerontology studies.

According to the plan, authorities at all levels will need to make sure that 100 percent of elderly people have health insurance cards by 2025, and that 80 percent receive at least one medical check-up a year and maintain up-to-date health profiles.-VNA