Dr Shin visits Viet Nam in support of Universal Health Care coverage reform

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Dr Shin Young-soo (WPRO Regional Director) speaking to commune health station staff in Dung K’no commune, Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province, Viet Nam.
L. Ngo-Fontaine/WHO Viet Nam
Dr Shin Young-soo (WPRO Regional Director) speaking to commune health station staff in Dung K’no commune, Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province, Viet Nam.

Dr Shin Young-soo, the World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific, has visited Viet Nam as part of the organization’s continued commitment to support the country on its path towards universal health coverage.

“Viet Nam’s health care system is at a crossroads” noted Dr Shin during his five-day visit earlier this week. “Now, more than ever, it is time for the Government to make tough decisions and demonstrate its strong commitment to further advance social health insurance for Viet Nam’s people.”

Viet Nam has a well-established health service delivery system with a strong grassroots health care network to provide basic care to the entire population, including hard-to-reach communities. A social health insurance system was introduced 20 years ago and now covers nearly 70% of the population.

“WHO is committed to helping Viet Nam ensure that health services are of high quality, affordable and, most importantly, that families are protected from financial hardships when they use health care they need,”

Dr Shin Young-soo, WPRO Regional Director

“This is a truly impressive gain given the current level of the country’s GDP per capita, and reflects the government’s commitment to universal coverage and to subsidize health care for the vulnerable and poor,” said Dr Shin.

However, serious challenges still remain including high out-of-pocket payment, lack of access to and uptake of health care by the poor and ethnic minority groups living in remote areas, less than optimal efficiency within the health system and fragmented resource allocation for health insurance.

The health insurance law is currently being revised to widen coverage and address some of these challenges. Viet Nam’s National Assembly will vote on the revisions to the law in May 2014.

Over the past two years, WHO has actively been involved in leading a national policy dialogue and several follow-up forums made up of regional experts and key government decision makers to help guide Viet Nam in the process of revising the health insurance law.

Viet Nam’s Vice Minister of Health Pham Le Tuan and Dr Shin Young-soo (WPRO Regional Director) visiting an ethnic minority household in Dung K’no commune, Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province, Viet Nam.
L. Ngo-Fontaine, WHO Viet Nam
Viet Nam’s Vice Minister of Health Pham Le Tuan and Dr Shin Young-soo (WPRO Regional Director) visiting an ethnic minority household in Dung K’no commune, Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province, Viet Nam.

Dr Shin’s mission this week included visits to remote health care centers and ethnic minority households in Lam Dong Province to witness firsthand the opportunities and challenges associated with financing and delivering health care services in hard to reach areas.

He also addressed the Minister of Health and National Assembly members in Ho Chi Minh City to advocate for key revisions to the national health insurance law that promote social solidarity, overall administrative efficiency and the development of strong, evidence-based health financing and social health insurance policies.

“WHO is committed to helping Viet Nam ensure that health services are of high quality, affordable and, most importantly, that families are protected from financial hardships when they use health care they need,” Dr Shin concluded.

For more information, please contact

Ms. Tran Thi Loan
Tel: 84-4-943 3734/5/6 (ext. 83886)
Email: media.vtn@wpro.who.int

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