Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – People deserve comprehensive healthcare at the commune-level medical stations even when they are not ill and for this to happen, the operation of these stations must to be standardised, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien has stressed.

The stations are now capable of providing vaccinations and nutrition counselling but are bad at detecting, monitoring and treating chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, she told the launching ceremony of a training course on care for chronic diseases at commune-level medical stations in Hanoi on July 9.

The grassroots healthcare system is failing to win public trust as people hesitate to visit communal health clinics, largely because these establishments lack medicine and capable personnel, while the medical costs at the stations covered by national health insurance are low, Tien said.

The Ministry of Health has been piloting 26 standardised communal health clinics in eight cities and provinces, including three in Hanoi. These clinics have been provided with well-trained and experienced medical workers able to not only give health counselling, vaccinations and primary medical checkups but also perform ultrasound scans or electrocardiogram tests and manage non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the minister noted.

She also said that the ministry has been facilitating education for general practitioners and day-care services alongside home-based healthcare as an alternative to hospital admission. Furthermore, the ministry has been working to develop a database of personal health records.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Jun Nakagawa from the World Health Organisation said about 380,000 deaths a year in Vietnam result from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and that NCDs are blamed for 73 percent of all deaths nationwide. More than 40 percent of these deaths occur in people under the age of 70, Nakagawa added.

The main reason behind this is the lack of care services for non-communicable diseases at primary care providers, she said, stressing the necessity to reform Vietnam’s primary healthcare sector.

Better management of non-communicable diseases can only be achieved by improving capacity of communal health clinics and a clear financial mechanism to allocate funds collected from service fees at the clinics is also required to motivate health workers, she added.

The training course is scheduled to take place in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa and Ca Mau, among other areas. –VNA