Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged the health sector to help overstrained hospitals and improve the quality of treatment when addressing the sector’s video conference to launch its 2013 tasks in Hanoi on January 24.

He asked the sector to concentrate on deploying a nation-wide health insurance programme to enable poor and near-poor people to get insured when going to hospital, and reforming administrative procedures to make treatment easier for everyone.

The Government leader also requested that the sector should address gender imbalance and improve public awareness of family planning and disease prevention.

In 2012, the health sector made improvements in caring for people’s health. A Vietnamese person now enjoys a lifespan of 73 years. Vietnam is among a few countries that achieved its millennium development goals, including those relating to the reduction of under-1 and under-5 fatalities and malnutrition ahead of schedule.

The healthcare system has so far been expanded to all levels, from the State to grassroots. To date, 100 percent of communes and over 90 percent of hamlets have medical workers with 72 percent of communes being cared by doctors. Up to 95 percent of communal healthcare centres have midwives or pediatric physicians.

Around 68 percent of the population had health insurance in 2012, which doubled the number recorded in 2001.

The number of healthcare workers for 10,000 people rose from 29.2 in 2001 to 34.4 in 2012.

In addition, high technologies have been applied successfully, making the healthcare system comparable to developed countries in the region.

However, overcrowded hospitals, unsound policies to get various economic sectors involved in public healthcare programmes and high hospital fee still remain, posing difficulties for the sector to overcome.-VNA