The fourth wave of COVID-19, Vietnam’s health sector is still confused

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son, Head of the special standing section specializing in anti-epidemic support in Bac Giang encourages medical forces to participate in the fight against COVID-19 in Bac Giang

On the morning of June 3, 2021, Ho Chi Minh City’s Social Insurance said that six private polyclinics had submitted applications to suspend operations during the COVID-19 epidemic (for medical examination and treatment of people covered by health insurance). The stated reason is to limit the disease spread in the area.

Distinguish between public and private health?

Along with the number of public hospitals and other private polyclinics forced to suspend outpatient treatment in the short term due to COVID-19 patients visiting but not being able to isolate immediately, up to now, there have been no specific statistics in the press, but roughly 20 hospitals and private clinics have suspended services.

This development has prompted people to reread the recent statuses on the personal website of Doctor Vo Xuan Son, owner of EXSON International Clinic (private clinic) in Ho Chi Minh City. The clinic has the size of a small hospital, located in a busy area of ​​District 10, with a great reputation in the treatment of bone and joint diseases.

For many days since the outbreak, Doctor Vo Xuan Son has repeatedly voiced concern that his clinic may be closed at any time just because there is a COVID-19 patient coming for examination, so the person who has direct contact with the patient will become F1 and take a sample for testing. While waiting for sample collection and test results, they must self-isolate at home.

Due to the optimization of human and financial resources, private clinics are unlikely to be able to thread, screen, and isolate positive patients in the first place.

If the patient who comes to the examination is suspected of being positive, according to epidemic prevention regulations, the clinic must notify the city’s CDC so that this place can come to receive it and take the next steps such as testing, isolating the patient, etc. But HCM City’s CDC is also overloaded, so it can’t be tested or have results right away, but sometimes it takes a few days. At that time, the clinic was forced to keep the patient and then put the care and contact staff in isolation. But it is difficult for private clinics to equip facilities and human resources for this.

At the time of this outbreak, there was a case of a positive patient visiting a private clinic, instructed to call the CDC but this person did not do it but went to another clinic/hospital. As a result, the first clinic was closed and isolated for 15 days.

Doctor Vo Xuan Son is also upset about the fact that medical staff in private health facilities are not given priority to vaccinate like medical staff in public health facilities. Thus, there are many potential risks for the private polyclinic, which as a result, the clinic owner has to bear the entire burden, possibly even leading to burnout and closure.

Embarrassed, ignoring medical staff

In the past week alone, when the epidemic broke out in the industrial park and many epidemic points in the same area, we had to question the embarrassment of the State. Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City, ordered (almost) a three-day blockade, then it continuously closed and opened, opened and closed the gate checkpoints, so it was called a blockade, but it hardly worked because people in the city are still moving around as usual.

So are industrial parks! It was only four or five days later that a decision was made (from the business’s initiative, not from the Epidemic Prevention Committee), after being tested and vaccinated, the workers ate and slept in the company, but were not allowed to return home or the places of residence (about the place of residence will increase the area of ​​close contact and difficult to manage and trace).

Cross-contamination has also increased sharply in concentrated isolation areas and gradually drained the health sector’s workforce. A few days ago, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Duc Dam raised a pilot proposal for F1 to self-isolate at home.

On the other hand, when medical staff took samples under the hot weather outside to 50 degrees, many people fainted, the media of the Ministry of Health and the State in general still praised the blue clouds which are implicitly considered an honorable sacrifice. A female nurse with a 20-month-old baby was also dispatched to the epidemic area. A three-year-old baby is isolated alone because her parents are also quarantined but in another place. All were hailed as heroes, brave, and sacrifices. No one in the medical industry talked about solutions to heat, heat shock, dehydration, sustainable health care for medical staff, or the need for a three-year-old child to have a loved one by his side to take care of him.

This is already the fourth wave of epidemics in a year and a half. All of the above situations are not special exceptions that happen very often, but the reality is still embarrassing to the point of confusion, even causing a battle. Was the Ministry of Health not prepared for any similar plans?

The same goes for the vaccine solution

At the end of February this year, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific, wrote a long article titled “Vaccine against COVID-19 brings hope but not a ‘silver bullet’.”

(For those who don’t know this legend: The silver bullet is the only solution to eliminate any obstacle, derived from the dictionary of werewolves that can only be killed with silver bullets).

Vaccines are just one solution in a total of measures the whole world has applied over the past year and a half. These are distance, washing hands, wearing masks and improving resistance, creating herd immunity, and moving towards living with SARS-CoV-2.

But with the one-sided and tense propaganda (on purpose?) Vietnamese people are currently being pressed on the top of the message of vaccine devotion, insisting that only vaccines can help get out of this situation.

The Ministry of Health is the unit assigned to import vaccines, in addition, there are 27 enterprises with the function of importing and trading vaccines. In theory, these businesses are all entitled to negotiate to buy, and the Ministry of Health will consider licensing which type to buy. But for many months, many large enterprises could not buy a vaccine!

In the end, businesses were so impatient that they contributed money to the Government to buy vaccines, but this number must be given priority to businesses to inject their customers first! Then it’s no different than giving money to buy, what does it mean to donate to support the Government here. The press immediately attacked, causing them to clarify, I don’t contribute money to the Government, I have no profit here!

There are unverified sources that say it is due to difficulties in obtaining permits for the purchase of vaccines.

Along with the speed of the outbreak, the donation of money to the Government to buy vaccines for vaccination is also very popular. Newspapers continuously reported that large enterprises contributed hundreds of billions of dong to the Vaccine Fund. Messages sent to millions of phone subscribers “suggest” people to contribute to the Vaccine Fund. The KOLs on the right, the showbiz world is not sure whether they are sincere or suggested (or… gullible?), also compete to post photos of accounts proving that they have contributed money to the Fund.

Also on June 3, Deputy Minister of Finance Ta Anh Tuan said that to buy 150 million doses of vaccine, it needs VND25 trillion. The Fund has received more than VND3 trillion contributions from people and businesses.

Up to this point, at the same time, 36 businesses are allowed to import and trade vaccines.

This move is too high-handed when businesses have all contributed a lot of money to the Vaccine Fund, but now if you want to get vaccinated quickly, just spend money to buy it in the private sector, because the Vaccine Fund still has to give priority to many people!

Recalling in February of last year, the current Minister of Health, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Long, at that time, was also a Deputy Minister and deputy head of the Central Propaganda and Education Department, said in a press conference: “There is no need to wear a mask because masks are not effective against coronavirus.”

Connecting these events, it is difficult to fully trust the professional capacity in fighting the epidemic, the transparency as well as the comprehensive ability of the leaders of Vietnam’s Ministry of Health. (Translated)


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