Vietnam’s public health system has faced significant challenges in recent years, from diseases including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. With the help of organizations including USAID and the CDC, however, Vietnam has also achieved a great deal of success in addressing these issues. Here are some important things to know about health care in Vietnam, and how foreign aid programs have contributed to its development.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC’s partnership with the Vietnamese government celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023. Since 1998, the CDC has supported Vietnam in establishing programs to improve the treatment of diseases including TB, HIV and influenza. The number of HIV sentinel surveillance sites, for instance, which help Vietnam detect and monitor patterns of infection have doubled since 2003. Furthermore, a clinical trial for a new TB treatment conducted by the CDC in Vietnam reduced the length of treatment from six months to only four; it was the first new treatment regimen, in any country, for the disease in three decades. The CDC has also aided in the creation of five emergency operations centers to support the country’s health care system in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Bank
In 2013, the World Bank funded a $126 million project to protect and improve the public hospital system in 13 provinces in North Vietnam. The North East and Red River Delta Regional Health System Support Project aimed to solve the overcrowding problem that many Vietnamese hospitals were experiencing. It was a success — nearly half of the 74 hospitals included in the program were awarded the Vietnamese Ministry of Health’s upper hospital classification, and patient satisfaction rates experienced a marked increase, reaching 88.5% at the district level. Almost 5,000 local doctors received training from Vietnam’s top medical specialists, learning around 3,000 new techniques to use in their own communities.
In an effort to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID provided Vietnam with $12 million in aid in 2020. This included $4.7 million in funding for laboratory systems, public health screenings, infection prevention in health care settings and 100 ventilators. USAID also provided $5 million in support of the country’s economic recovery.
Other programs financed by USAID that support health care in Vietnam include Erase TB. This initiative has improved the country’s ability to detect and treat tuberculosis, contributing to a decline in cases of the disease in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Additionally, USAID’s Local Assistance to Develop and Deliver Excellence, Resilience and Sustainability in Vietnam (LADDERS) program helps high-risk people living with HIV, often living in remote areas, to access testing and treatment services.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO has supported Vietnam with the goals set out at the ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion, held in 2016. These are:
- Good governance – promotes an approach in which health care is central to government policy and policies that protect citizens’ health and wellbeing are prioritized
- Health literacy – ensures that citizens have the information they need to make healthy choices and to access health care.
- Healthy cities – reinforces the need for high-quality health care services and planning at the local level, to improve the state of the country’s overall health care system.
Vietnam’s 1,332 hospitals, alongside its community services and laboratories, have significantly improved patient access to higher quality health care in recent decades. The work done, and aid given, from both American and global organizations has been vital to this record of success and continues to help Vietnam improve the standard of care that its citizens receive. Health care in Vietnam is more effective thanks to the enduring partnerships established between these organizations and the Vietnamese government.
– Martha Probert