Hospitals in HCMC short of medicines

After Sai Gon Giai Phong released the story of shortage of the radiopharmaceuticals to run a positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET) and a computed tomography (CT) scan for cancer patients resulting in patients waiting to undergo the technique, many city dwellers moaned that hospitals in the city not only lack radiopharmaceuticals but drugs for insured patients as well.

Hospitals in HCMC short of medicines ảnh 1 Insured patients are waiting to receive medicine at Trung Vuong Hospital 
Recently, many people have reported that physicians at Thu Duc City Hospital or satellite clinics of the hospital asked them to go out to buy medicine because the hospital is short of medicine. Many patients with health insurance cards have been angry about losing their benefits; therefore, they have sent petitions to responsible agencies.
Talking about this, Director of the Department of Health of Ho Chi Minh City Associate Professor Tang Chi Thuong said that right after the social distance, the number of patients with health insurance cards coming to Thu Duc City Hospital for examination and treatment increased from 80 percent to more than 100 percent compared to the number during the epidemic outbreak. According to the data of the health sector, the number of outpatients with health insurance cards in August 2021 was only about 28,048 persons while it was 75,459 patients in April 2022.
Worse, the Thu Duc City Hospital's drug procurement package for 2020-2021 ended on December 29, 2021. At this time, the infirmary’s drug supply faced some difficulties such as a dramatic increase in the number of patients coming to the hospital for examination in early 2022, causing some drugs to be inadequate. Furthermore, the prolonged Covid-19 epidemic in 2021-2022 has affected the hospital's drug procurement; plus, some companies do not supply enough according to the needs of the hospital.
Dr. Tang Chi Thuong added that the Department of Health has recommended that the directors of medical examination and treatment facilities review and deploy the procurement of drugs and medical supplies in accordance with regulations, ensuring sufficient quantity and timely delivery in order not to affect the legitimate interests of insured patients.
Before that, at the end of May 2021, HCMC-based leading Cho Ray Hospital ran out of some drugs on the list of drugs covered by health insurance, causing many kidney transplant patients have to buy drugs from outside with some drugs costing up to tens of millions of Vietnam dong. Subsequently, the hospital convened an emergency meeting to find a solution, over-purchased one of the missing drugs, and organized the procurement in the form of appointing contractors for the remaining drugs to have emergency drugs, then bidding widely according to regulations.
According to Dr. Pham Thanh Viet, Head of the General Planning Department of Cho Ray Hospital, the procurement of drugs in public health facilities must follow the bidding forms in accordance with regulations. Occasionally, bidders of several drugs can’t win the bid, for example, there are no units participating in the bidding, the bidding is not successful due to the dossier or the price is overpriced. At that time, the hospital can’t give medicines to insured patients according to regulations, and patients with health insurance must buy them from pharmacies outside the hospital.
Relating to the fact that some units and localities are short of drugs to treat insured patients, Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan said that in order not to disrupt medical examination and treatment and the interests of people with health insurance cards, the Ministry of Health has urged and requested health departments in cities and provinces and the National Center for Centralized Drug Procurement to increase the purchase of drugs, the bidding for drugs and medical supplies to meet medical examination and treatment for these patients.
Regarding the recent heartbreaking death of a 4-year-old girl in the Central Province of Phu Yen who was bitten by a scorpion. The toddlers died of liver and kidney failure after five days of intensive treatment because the hospital did not have anti-venom serum.
Dr. Nguyen Trung Nguyen, Director of the Anti-Poison Center in Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital, said that antidote serum is an antidote that requires many rare active ingredients with a high price, is not used frequently, and is not widely available whereas profits are not available, so many pharmaceutical importers are not interested in importing this product.
Dr. Nguyen Trung Nguyen proposed that the government should buy these rare and specific drugs for distribution to hospitals, only that, patients have the opportunity to access such drugs.
According to medical experts, the production of antivenom is completely within reach of domestic scientists. In fact, for many years now, many types of antivenom have been produced in Vietnam. Specifically, affordable snake anti-venom researched by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) in Nha Trang has shown very good results in the treatment of patients with snakebites.
However, the transition from research products to commercial products still faces many difficulties, due to the mechanism and funding to maintain and operate the production line regularly. Therefore, the Ministry of Health has planned to build a warehouse of rare drugs for many diseases so that patients can have early access to the best medicines.

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