Statement of Dr Kidong Park on the occasion of the Health Partnership Group Meeting on Financial Mechanism for Primary Health Care towards Universal Health Coverage in Viet Nam

Dr Kidong Park
15 May 2018

It is my great pleasure to co-chair the first Health Partnership Meeting in 2018 together with Madam Thuy Anh, Chair of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs, Associate Professor Pham Le Tuan Vice-Minister of Health as well as Viet Nam Social Security and the World Bank.

Last March, I accompanied Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific for his trip to northern western mountainous provinces of Viet Nam – Dien Bien and Son La – together with, Madam Thuy Anh and Vice Minister Tuan. We observed doctors at commune health stations are working very hard with dedication to support people in the community. They are respected by community people. However, we also noticed that there are some challenges in financing commune health stations for their primary health care service provision.

Last week, I joined Vice Minister Tuan at the launch of training of trainers to train all the commune health station on hypertension and diabetes management applying basic Family Medicine Principles. The objective is to have 100% of commune health stations get training by the end of 2019. After the training, commune health stations should implement prevention, early detection, diagnosis and management of hypertension and diabetes. The implementation target by the end of 2020 is 70% for hypertension and 40% of diabetes.

We then recognized that the way to reimburse commune health stations for their activity in prevention, early detection, diagnosis and management of hypertension and diabetes should be carefully reviewed and adjusted, if necessary.

With that, I am quite convinced that the topic of today’s HPG meeting – Financial Mechanism for Primary Health Care towards Universal Health Coverage in Viet Nam – is very relevant and very timely.

This topic is relevant and timely not only for Vietnam but also globally --- as strengthening primary health care towards universal health coverage is the top agenda in global health, and setting up the right financial mechanism is at the core of its discussion.

Last month, on April 7, WHO celebrated its 70th birthday by dedicating World Heath Day to the theme of Universal Health Coverage – or Health for All.

Next week, Member States of WHO will meet at 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva. The theme of the general discussion is “Health for all: commit to universal health coverage.”

In October this year, on the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata, the President of Kazakhstan along with WHO and UNICEF, will host a second international conference on primary health care. This conference aims to strengthen primary health care as the foundation for UHC, and building on lessons learnt over the past four decades. Participants are expected to commit to making the vision of primary health care for UHC a practical reality and to articulate this in a new declaration.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Viet Nam’s vast network of commune health stations and its high-level commitment to strengthening the grassroots network have been the key success factor of Viet Nam to be a bright spot in public health and for Vietnamese people to enjoy healthier and longer life than other countries with a similar level of development.

However, we have to admit the situation that primary health care system , and the grass-root health care facilities in Viet Nam should be re-vitalized. The problem remains with overcrowding of hospitals at higher levels and bypassing of grass-root level health care facilities.

International experience tells us that redirecting health insurance and other financial resources to the level of primary care will enable the system to deliver strong, people-centered primary care that meets the needs of the population in an efficient and effective manner.

Last month, our Regional Director Dr Shin Young-soo visited Viet Nam to meet with Deputy Prime-Minister Vu Duc Dam and Minister Tien, and present WHO’s recommendations that will help Viet Nam to achieve UHC, based on the current national context as well as international experiences and lessons learnt from more developed economies.

Today, we are grateful for an opportunity to share some of these recommendations with the Health Partnership Group, and to discuss options for allocating a much greater proportion of health insurance funds to the grassroots level.

We remain fully committed to supporting the Government in this area, and look forward to a lively discussion this morning.

Xin cam on.