Traditional medicine found wanting
Traditional medicines are used to treat high blood pressure in elderly people.-Photo thuocbac.edu.vn
This was revealed at a meeting organised by the Ministry of Health and the Việt Nam Social Insurance Agency on Monday in Hà Nội.
Some traditional medicine hospitals do not have doctors specialised in diagnostic imaging, leading to less patients coming to the hospitals as they cannot benefit from the services, according to Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn, deputy head of the ministry’s Traditional Medicine Management Department.
Another shortcoming is a lack of detailed instructions for insurance agencies on how to pay health insurance fees for patients diagnosed with chronic diseases, who are the typical patients visiting traditional medicine hospitals.
Normally, patients with chronic diseases need to be treated for a long time.
Thus, the lack of instructions affects patients and heath insurance agencies as they are confused on how to pay health insurance fees for these patients.
At present, many medical universities declined to train traditional-medicine doctors in modern medicine, Tuấn said.
"This means traditional medicine hospitals fail to meet standards required by the health ministry to become primary healthcare facilities where health insurance card holders can register for examination and treatment," he said.
Phạm Lương Sơn, deputy general director of the Việt Nam Social Insurance Agency pointed out defects in implementing and paying health insurance fees for patients treated with traditional medicines.
Some traditional medicine hospitals were found to keep patients for longer than necessary, he said.
Sơn also said the price of ba kích (Indian Mulberry) – a kind of traditional medicine, differed between localities. For instance, the price was VNĐ338,500 (US$15) per kilo in Quảng Nam Province, VNĐ630,000 ($28) in Thanh Hóa Province and VNĐ730,000 ($32) in Điện Biên Province.
He asked for the difference to be clarified.
He gave an example that an insurance agency branch in Bình Định Province revoked VNĐ1 billion ($44,000) after finding a difference between the real price of traditional medicine with the price a local hospital quoted to the agency in 2016.
How to fix
Tuấn said inconsistencies in policies were behind the shortcomings.
He asked the ministry and the insurance agency to sit down together and issue a consistent policy to fix the shortcomings, Tuấn said.
Sơn asked the ministry to assess examining and treating patients by traditional medicine at national level.
He also advised the ministry to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional medicine in treating patients with health insurance cards at hospitals.
The ministry was asked to publicise the average bid winning prices for each kind of traditional medicine, he added.
Deputy Minister Nguyễn Viết Tiến urged reaching a consensus between the two agencies to deal with the shortcomings soon.