Thousands of coastal and island residents have had access to health care services as quickly as they needed thanks to a project on sea and island health care development until 2020 that was launched in February, 2013.

Over 1,600 people were provided with first aid and 31,000 others with check-ups and treatment, and medicines were given free to 13,600 residents, heard a conference to review the project’s implementation over the past year and discuss a plan to continue with it.

In the year, five helicopters were deployed for medical emergencies while 758 surgeries were performed by grassroots health care establishments in coastal areas and islands.

Deputy Health Minister Pham Le Tuan stressed the importance of the project in helping those living and working in coastal areas and islands have their fundamental health care needs met and see visible access to quality services in the future.

However, the implementation of the project is challenged by such difficulties as a shortage of health workers with practical maritime medicine knowledge, emergency services cost and incentives for health workers on the project-benefited areas, according to the ministry.

It has instructed Hue and Ho Chi Minh City medicine and pharmaceutical universities to develop plans to set up maritime health care faculties to provide personnel serving the sea and island health care services.

Health care unit 78 in Navy High Command Zone 5 will be upgraded to people-military hospital 78 and a project on the establishment of a first aid centre at sea will be developed, heard the conference.-VNA