Hospitals in HCMC struggling due to lack of medicine

Many hospitals and clinics in Ho Chi Minh City have lately struggled to obtain sufficient medicines and medical equipment. There has been a serious lack of medical supply, and it is so challenging to stock more, while patients are in dying need of necessary medicine for their treatments or their diseases could worsen.

Outpatients of Binh Thanh District Hospital are receiving medicine under health insurance.

Being an emergency case in Cho Ray Hospital on November 5, 73-year-old Dang Dai Tr. from Quang Binh Province was diagnosed with hepatitis, cirrhosis and ascites. Along with Covid-19 infection. After aspiration of abdominal fluid, he felt better but could not obtain Molnupiravir to cure himself from Covid-19 since it was out of stock.

In a similar thirst for medical equipment is 14-year-old Lam Nhat Bao from Binh Thuan Province, who was diagnosed by doctors in Cho Ray Hospital with medulloblastoma, and needed to receive 54GY/27EX radiotherapy on October 21. He was unable to finish the treatment as the machine in the hospital was out of order. He then had to move to the HCMC Oncology Hospital.

At present, the Department of Dengue fever - Hematology in HCMC Children's Hospital No.1 is treating over 100 children, a half of whom are suffering dengue fever shocks. Sadly, there is a lack of supply for HES 200.000 dalton and Dextran 40 for shock resistance. Even the vasopressors for pediatric patients are not enough either. This means the treatment of children under dengue fever shock is not at the optimal level.

As for alternative medicines, pharmacist Do Van Dung, Head of the Pharmacy Office of the HCMC Health Department, shared that these medicines are normally imported, and some are not in the list of drugs paid by the social security office. Therefore, the medicine is not enough to deliver to patients in need.

Patients receiving treatment at the HCMC Oncology Hospital (Photo: SGGP)

Doctor Diep Bao Tuan, Deputy Director of the HCMC Oncology Hospital, said that his hospital is under high pressure due to a large quantity of patients coming here from neighboring provinces as well as other hospitals in HCMC. Nevertheless, although in full capacity, the hospital still endures a list of 1,000 patients waiting for surgery or radiation therapy as the medicine supply is disrupted.

Rare medicine for cancer such as Vinblastin, Dactionmycin cannot be obtained on the market; therefore, the hospital has to switch to other less effective regimens. He informed that many kinds of medicine have already obtained their visa but when their circulation time expires, there is a need to ask for new ones, which is time-consuming.

Director Do Tan Khoa of the HCMC Traditional Medical Hospital said that owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, certain materials to make alternative medicine under health insurance for patients cannot be bought. As to the bidding package for medicine in 2021 and 2022, only one company submitted an application. However, since it could not satisfy all criteria, the hospital had to cancel the bidding package.

Deputy Director of the HCMC Health Department Nguyen Van Vinh Chau reported that his organization has already sent a formal dispatch to the Health Ministry about the status of medicine and medical equipment bidding in HCMC, along with encountered difficulties and corresponding solutions. It especially stressed the inability to find supply sources for imported medicine, rare medicine that cannot be replaces in disease treatment.

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