WHO calls for action to achieve health for all in Viet Nam

Media release

Vietnam meets 73% of the population health needs with regards to essential health services, which is regarded as relatively high compared to other countries in the Western Pacific Region. However, Vietnamese people also face relatively high risk of financial hardship due to payments for health. This is the key finding of the country profile released on World Health Day, 7 April 2018, the theme of which this year is Universal Health Coverage. This year, April 7th also marks the 70th anniversary of WHO—the United Nations agency founded on the principle that Health is a Right for All.

The theme of World Health Day this year is Universal Health Coverage which comes at the right moment in Viet Nam as the government embarks on an ambitious plan with Resolution 20 to strengthen the grassroots/primary health care towards universal health coverage, so that every Vietnamese can access essential health services when and where they need.

Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.

For the first time, the country profile brings together data to show Viet Nam’s progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. The country profile will help the government to identify gaps and priority areas, in order to strengthen systems and to ensure that quality health services reach all people.

Health systems is stronger in some areas but needs to be re-oriented to better meet the changing health needs

In Viet Nam, access to immunization, and maternal and child health services has gained considerable momentum and contributed to significant reduction in child and maternal mortality rates. However, we need to strengthen and sustain efforts in the areas of detecting and treating infectious diseases of public health importance (such as tuberculosis and HIV) as well as those for preventing and treating noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

WHO\Yoshi Shimizu

NCDs remain the number One cause of premature mortality in Vietnam. Unless the situation improves, around one in five 30-year-olds in Viet Nam will die from NCDs before their 70th birthday. Viet Nam has relatively high prevalence of male smoking, total per capital alcohol consumption, and mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution, as compared to other countries in the region. A strong health system is needed to prevent these diseases, and to reverse the NCD epidemic, as well as better support those already managing these conditions.

Government spending on health

In Viet Nam, about 19% of families report spending more than 10% of their income on health services—a level WHO considers as unreasonable financial hardship.

The total health expenditure in Viet Nam is US$ 142 per person or 7.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) as of 2014, of which 54% is from general government spending on health, and the remaining 46% is private spending mainly in the form of out-of-pocket payment. If financial protection is not adequate, high out-of pocket payment for health care services can push families into poverty; therefore it is important for Viet Nam to continue to increase the share of government health spending in total health expenditure.

Equity is the key, but more data needed

The country profile spells out the challenges to achieving Universal Health Coverage in Viet Nam. More detailed data is needed to ensure that no one is left behind. Future editions of the country profile should include information on access to health services broken down by income groups, as well as urban vs rural population( for example) so the Government can target disadvantaged groups. This step would help ensure that the poor gain at least as much as the better-off groups on the path towards Universal Health Coverage.

What is Universal Health Coverage?

Universal Health Coverage is about making sure all people have access to quality health services where and when they need them, without financial hardship. It includes the full spectrum of services needed throughout life—from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

Everyone i.e., individuals, civil society groups, health professionals, researchers, policy-makers and media, has a part to play in calling for, developing and delivering on policies to achieve universal health coverage.

Achieving Universal Health Coverage is one of the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG3.8), adopted at the United Nations in 2015. The same year, Member States of the WHO Western Pacific Region endorsed the Action Framework for Universal Health Coverage: Moving towards Better Health.

For more information:

Ms Tran Thi Loan
Tel: +84 24 38 500 100
Fax: +84 24 37 265 519
E-mail: wpvnmmedia@who.int

For more information on universal health coverage in the WHO Western Pacific Region and to download the country profiles, go to: