ASEAN Community targets better health care

(VOV) -It is imperative to focus expressly on improving access to quality health care within the confines of accelerating socio-economic growth and cultural progress towards realising the ASEAN Community, said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Addressing the 12th ASEAN Health Ministers’ Meeting, which opened in Hanoi on September 18, Dung noted since its establishment in 1967, the development of human capital stock has been a leading priority for ASEAN.

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He applauded the regional bloc’s achievements in modernising its healthcare sector with the latest in state-of-the-art medical equipment and infrastructure. He also commended the attention devoted to improving the training and qualifications of medical personnel.

The Vietnam Government leader emphasised over the past three decades Vietnam has made significant achievements in its Doi Moi (Renewal) process. From a poor underdeveloped war-torn country, Vietnam has transformed itself into a middle-income economy entering a new period of development, integrating deeply into the world.

The country has given proper attention to community health, completing some of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG), particularly in lowering malnutrition and mortality rates among children, and improving maternal health, Dung said.

He highlighted Vietnam’s stead fast efforts in combating infectious diseases, stamping out epidemics, and setting up local medical centres. So far, about three quarters of the Vietnamese population have access to medical insurance and the health index of Vietnam is higher than in other countries having the same income per capita.

Like other regional countries, Vietnam is facing numerous difficulties and challenges in protecting and improving people’s health due to the negative impact of climate change and environmental pollution, but it will persevere and overcome these obstacles, he said.

PM Dung thanked international friends and foreign organisations for providing invaluable support and effective cooperation, specifically those from ASEAN member countries. However, he said, there are many infectious diseases posing unique and great threats to human health due to lack of proper treatment.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon ASEAN to design a healthcare network to help people, especially those living in remote, mountainous and vulnerable areas, gain easy access to better medical services.

Closer cooperation among countries is needed to combat infectious diseases, such as Ebola, H7N9, and Mec-CoVi, dengue fever, hand-foot-mouth disease, malaria, and rabies.

He also stressed the importance of the ongoing ASEAN Health Ministers’ Meeting, saying it takes place at a time when ASEAN member countries are discussing specific measures for regional cooperation mechanisms in the lead up to the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

The event, hosted by Vietnam for the first time, attracted nearly 200 delegates who are health ministers from ASEAN member countries and officials from China, Japan, and the RoK, as well as the ASEAN Secretary General and representatives from international organisations.

They focused their discussions on first-aid services, all-people medical insurance, epidemic prevention and control, and coordination in combating newly-emerging infectious diseases.