Vietnam is currently working to develop a universal healthcare system, which will cover all residents and provide them with basic healthcare. For that purpose, Vietnam works closely with Thailand’s government to model its universal healthcare after their example. There were several reforms implemented during the spring of 2014.
Firstly, there was a reform to increase the physicians’ pay. There was also a reform to strengthen the domestic generic drug sector, and finally a 5-year transition plan for hospitals, expected to end in 2016.In May 2014 the World Bank approved a 106 million USD credit to help improve the quality of the healthcare system in Vietnam. However, the Vietnamese government still only invests a small percentage of its GDP in healthcare It is, however, worth noting that between 2014 and 2015, 2.7 million people acquired health insurance coverage, thanks to efforts from the government. As of July 2015, 71.4% of the population was covered, and the goal is to achieve 80% coverage by 2020. Even though the situation is getting better, as an expatriate, your best bet is probably to take out private health insurance to cover your healthcare costs throughout your stay.
Vietnam has made excellent progress since the 1990s and is today generally providing good quality healthcare. The average life expectancy in Vietnam is 73 and the child mortality rate has decreased significantly. Still, the improvement of the current healthcare service is an important part of the reforms previously mentioned.
Reforms are especially necessary in rural areas of Vietnam. Expats moving to areas removed from an urban center will soon notice that sufficient medical care is often not readily available in smaller towns and villages. Local hospitals and doctor’s practices are often not up to modern standards.
You will not have too much of a hard time finding a doctor or a hospital if you live in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or any other big city in Vietnam. Doctors usually work in hospitals or joint practices. For instance, the Family Medical Practice in Hanoi has several doctors who are used to dealing with the needs of Vietnam's international community.
In Hanoi alone, there are several large hospitals that are very well equipped to deal with expatriates and their needs. Among them are two dental clinics and a branch of the International SOS Clinic. The latter employs both Vietnamese and expatriate staff. The languages spoken include Chinese, Russian, English, French, Korean, and Spanish, among others.
While life in Vietnam is generally safe, there are various widespread infectious diseases and health threats. Hepatitis A and B are a big problem, especially in the countryside, where hygiene standards may not always be on par with those in the cities. Typhoid fever, dengue fever, and malaria are also still extremely common. You should also be aware of the Zika virus, chickenpox outbreaks, and even rabies in rural areas. There are also cases of acute watery diarrhea and cholera. Make sure to talk to your doctor and get the necessary vaccinations, so you can enjoy your new life in Vietnam with few worries.
Many Vietnamese people also have to deal with the effects of the biological warfare waged during the Vietnam War. The biological weapon Agent Orange was widely used and did not only ravage much of the country’s agriculture, but it also corrupted the landscape, thus impacting the food chain and ultimately the human body. Today, it still leads to miscarriages and to children being born with physical disabilities.
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