Published on December 24, 2007
Every day 50 to 70 Vietnamese patients travel abroad, according to medical advisory services.
Patients say the cost of treatment in neighbouring countries is acceptable. In Vietnam, the cost is much lower but hospitals are overcrowded.
Nguyen Phuc Nhan, director of the People's Hospital 115's Medical Check-up Department, says Vietnamese doctors do not have the time to talk with their patients.
"In Singapore, a physician receives 10 patients each day. A physician in HCM City receives over 10 times more patients - between 100 and 200 a day," Nhan said.
One patient who wanted to remain anonymous says he suffered from hepatitis C and received treatment at a HCM City hospital, shelling out about 5 million dong (Bt9,500) a week for injections.
A test six months later showed that the hepatitis virus was no longer present in his blood. Nevertheless, the doctor told him to continue with the shot for six more months.
"The physician did not reply when I asked him why I should," the patient said. Worried, he flew out to Singapore for treatment.
"After a blood test, a doctor told me that my health condition was improving and that I could stop the shots," he said.
"I spent a few thousand US dollars in Singapore, but I feel assured about my health."
However, faced with an increasing number of complaints about physicians who seldom talk or give medical advice, several big hospitals in HCM City, including Cho Ray, have begun training classes in communication for their staff.
Nhan points out that only rich people can afford treatment abroad. "The majority of the people are receiving medical care in the country. They're confident in the skills of local physicians," he said.
Many hospitals staffed by experienced physicians have purchased hi-tech medical equipment using public funds to improve the quality of their treatment.
Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital's
fertility department, famous worldwide for its low costs and high pregnancy rate, receives many patients from many foreign countries, including the US, France, Belgium and Russia.
Since opening in 1997, it has treated more than 6,000 patients, 15 per cent of whom are foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.
Prof Nguyen Chan Hung, director of HCM City's Cancer Hospital, says Singaporean physicians may have greater medical knowledge than their peers in Vietnam. "But Vietnamese physicians' experience in treatment is higher because they practically handle many different cases on a daily basis," he said.
"Cancer patients in Vietnam are treated with the same medicines now used in foreign countries," he added. "Our success rate in treating cancer that is detected early is as high as in other regional countries."
Viet Nam News
Asia News Network
HO CHI MINH CITY