The absence of a department of nutrition and diet at many hospitals, a lack of trained dietitians and poor food service at hospital canteens are blamed for the high prevalence of malnutrition among patients, said Do Thi Ngoc Diep, Director of the HCM City Nutrition Centre.
The unhealthy eating habits of patients resulted in malnutrition, Diep said at a conference held in HCM City recently.
In HCM City, the prevalence of malnutrition among patients stands at 40.7 percent.
A high prevalence of malnutrition was common for patients in the departments of oncology, respiratory, surgical, traditional medicine and intensive care, she said.
Poor nutritional status increased the risk of infectious complications, a poorer clinical outcome, an increased length of hospital stay and costs as well as morbidity and mortality, she added.
According to Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Medical Examination and Treatment, nutrition plays a vital role for hospitalised patients during their treatment, especially those with severe illnesses such as cancer, post-surgery, diabetes, kidney failure, severe burns and gastroenterology.
Nearly 30 percent of hospitals across the country have no nutrition and dietetic department to provide advice about nutrition and diet in relation to health and illness.
Participants at the conference suggested the Ministry of Health take measures to ensure all hospitals have a department of nutrition and diet.
Meals for patients should be covered by health insurance benefits, they said.-