The financing package includes an $88.6 million policy-based loan, which will provide budget support to the Ministry of Health as it implements complex reforms nationwide in key areas such as public investment governance, health service delivery, and health workforce quality in the local health care (LHC) system.
A $12 million grant, meanwhile, will complement those reforms by piloting health service delivery models in 12 districts in six provinces with high poverty rate, large minority populations, and susceptibility to health security threat.
“The program is part of ADB’s coordinated effort to help the Government of Vietnam achieve universal health coverage, including access to essential health care services,” said ADB Senior Health Specialist Mr. Gerard Servais.
“The grant, in particular, will fund critical investments to help ensure quality health service delivery in remote, disadvantaged areas, with a strong focus on women’s health.”, he added.
Vietnam’s remarkable economic growth in the last three decades has helped it reduce poverty to 2.0% in 2016 from 52.9% in 1992. But the success is uneven across the nation. That has led to inequitable access to quality and affordable health care, resulting in disparities in public health outcomes, such as reproductive and maternal health.
In Central Highlands, for example, the infant mortality rate was 24.8 per 1,000 live births in 2015, compared with 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in the affluent South East region.
The government has recognized the need to build an adequate framework to guide public investment in the LHC system. The system, mainly including commune health stations, plays a critical role in equitable access to health care, especially in disadvantaged areas, and in strengthening health security but its facilities are often outdated.
It also has weak workforce management and hasn’t adapted to the changing health needs of the population, especially in the management of rising number of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
ADB’s program will support the government’s reforms in these areas, including 14 already accomplished policy actions. The grant also expects specific outputs. For example, by 2024, twelve district hospitals in the six provinces will have essential medical equipment to diagnose infectious and noncommunicable diseases.
The grant will strengthen health security and implement health services delivery models which are more responsive to the needs of the population, along with electronic health records.
The program will also contribute to regional cooperation in health security through the ongoing Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) health security project and the recently endorsed GMS regional health cooperation strategy.