Efforts made by Vietnam to renovate its health care system were highlighted during a speech delivered by Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien at the opening ceremony of the 68th session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva taking place from May 18-26.

During her remarks, Tien said Vietnam, a low-middle income country with a population of over 90 million, has achieved good health outcome indicators from the millennium development goals, above a number of countries with similar per capita incomes.

Grassroots healthcare networks have constantly been invested in and developed. All communes have health centres—60 percent of which have medical doctors—and all villages have health workers, she noted, adding that Vietnam is striving to achieve health insurance coverage of 75 percent in late 2015 and 80 percent in 2020.

Recently, Vietnam joined the global health security system pilot and achieved significant progress in public health emergency preparedness and response. Through substantial efforts, Vietnam has successfully controlled emerging diseases and pandemics such as SARS and the avian flu, Tien reported.

She shared that Vietnam has enacted various policies in a bid to foster a more resilient health system, focusing on health finance reform, investment in infrastructure and human resource development.

The Government is subsidising health insurance premiums for the poor, near-poor, ethnic minorities, children under 6 and people living in disadvantaged areas as well as encouraging private investment and public-private partnership (PPP) in infrastructure and hi-tech medical equipment. Administrative procedures in healthcare have been made more transparent to satisfy the general population.

Vietnam has effectively used domestic and official development assistance resources to increase investment in modern hospitals at the tertiary and grassroots levels. As a result, as many as 800 new district and central hospitals and hundreds of commune-level health centres have opened, improving universal access to high-quality health services.

The country has also focused on developing human resources in the sector by improving the quality of medical training for health workers and birth attendances, especially in mountainous areas, and promoting development of traditional medicine.

Meanwhile, Vietnam successfully implemented advanced techniques such as organ transplants, stem cell applications and endoscopy robots. Currently, 12 vaccines for the expanded immunisation program are domestically-produced.

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency, Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said one of the highlights of the WHO’s assessment for Vietnam's national regulatory system for vaccines was being recognised for meeting international standards.-VNA