Schools, hospitals call themselves ‘international’ to lure students, patients

Wealthy Vietnamese tend to use services provided by ‘international schools’ and ‘international hospitals’ as they believe ‘international’ means ‘high quality’. But in fact, the service quality there is not ‘international’.

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The official website of JCI, the world's leading medical quality assessment organization, shows that it has given certificates on international standards to four hospitals in Vietnam. These include Cao Thang Ophthalmology Hospital, FV Hospital, Vinmec – Central Park in HCM City and Vinmec – Times City in Hanoi.

However, there are numerous other hospitals thathave proclaimed themselves as ‘international’ and the word ‘international’ is found in their names: Minh Anh International Hospital, Thu Cuc International General Hospital and Hong Ngoc International General Hospital and many others.

Nguyen Huy Quang, director of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Health, said this is just the matter of naming and hospitals have the right to give names to themselves.

Quang explained that ‘international’ here doesn’t mean ‘meeting international standards’. They just have to meet the requirements in facilities, medical equipment and professionalism to be eligible for operation.

“If hospitals call themselves ‘international’, but the quality is ‘not international’, patients will turn their back on them,” he explained.

Regarding JCI certificate, Quang said this is a high level of certificate. Hospitals not only have to satisfy basic requirements, but also meet the standards set by JCI to be able to get certificates from the organization. The hospitals, which want to provide medical services to foreigners, should have JCI certificates because this helps their prestige.

Disagreeing with Quang, Pham Gia Khai, former chair of the Vietnam Society of Cardiology, said the existence of self-proclaimed international hospitals shows a big problem in management. This causes confusion among patients as they cannot tell the difference between the self-proclaimed and recognized international hospitals.

The expert said that hospitals cannot be named arbitrarily, and that only hospitals meeting international standards can be named international.

To be recognized by JCI, for example, hospitals have to satisfy more than 1,000 factors which measure everything in hospital, from infrastructure, management to examination methods.

Khai went on to warn that the uncontrolled naming may cause serious consequences and people, especially patients, will suffer.

He cited the death of a first grader of Gateway School as example of the possible consequences of the self-proclamation of organizations. The student died after being forgotten on a school bus on the first day to school at Gateway School, which calls itself an international school.

Khai called on to establish an independent organization that assesses the quality of hospitals in Vietnam. The ranking and naming of hospitals will be made based on the assessments.