A local resident receives a health check-up at Thai Nguyen province’s Tan Huong commune (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - In order to reduce pressure placed on central hospitals, the basic medical services package at commune-level medical facilities will be implemented from December 2017.

The package, including prevention, consultation and treatment services for all citizens, is fully covered by Vietnam Social Security (VSS).
  
According to the agency’s data, only 19 percent of health insurance card holders register commune-level medical facilities as their initial places for examination and treatment, while only three percent of the social insurance fund pays for medical services at those centres.  

The shortage of services and skilled medical staff is the main reason for this phenomenon. Therefore, the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Vietnam Social Security collaborated to develop this basic medical services package as a solution.  

Thereby, people can access 76 basic services and 241 types of medicines at commune-level medical facilities.  

Through the package, diabetic patients, instead of going to hospitals, can receive medicines at local medical centres.

Doan Van Bon, a diabetic patient in northern Hai Duong province, is interested in this initiative. “Since the district hospital is seven kilometres away from my house, I miss appointments sometimes. Therefore, it is more convenient for me that near-by medical centre start distributing necessary medicines,” he said.

Schools also stand to benefit from the policy. As kindergartens and primary schools are commonly located next to medical facilities, students can access better medical services.

According to Le Van Kham, head of the Social Insurance Department under MoH, that the basic medical services package also helps people save money and motivates local medical facilities to enhance their capabilities.

With all expenses paid by the State budget and local budget, the initiative aims to satisfy 70 percent of people’s healthcare demands at local medical facilities. At present, the related agencies are planning to review the quality of medical services.

Moreover, Bằng recommended proposing further policies to support subordinate medical facilities such as doctor rotation or satellite hospitals.

Vietnamese people have to pay 40 percent for medical expenses while, according to the World Health Organisation, a medical system becomes unequal when it requires people to pay more than half of medical expenses. The reasonable rate recommended is 30 percent. Vietnam plans to reduce it to 35 percent by 2020.-VNA