Public Hospitals Face Critical Shortage of Medical Staff

The public health sector is seriously short of doctors and nurses as more and more of them move to private clinics where the pay is better, a senior health official warned the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council on Tuesday.

A doctor at SIHospital, a private hospital with high salary, examines a neonate

Dr. Le Truong Giang, deputy director of the city’s health department, said 575 highly skilled medical workers had gone over to the private sector since 2003.

He noted that the government kept calling for public contributions to build more hospitals without thinking about who would staff them.

It’s not only doctors and nurses who are quitting the public health system; medical staff at the important preventative clinics have been leaving too.

While there were 2,525 preventative health workers in 2005, by last year their number had dropped to 2,200, so nowadays there are only three preventative health workers per one thousand people.

Worse still, this exodus from the public sector has been occurring at a time of increasing outbreaks of dangerous diseases in different parts of Viet Nam.

The urgent task now is to train more doctors and nurses for the major hospitals lest the current staff become overwhelmed when an epidemic occurs.

Because of the serious staff shortage, the plan to build five more public hospitals must be put on hold, Dr. Giang concluded.

By L.K.L - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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