Viet Nam would have to train between 28,000 and 36,000 medical staff yearly to satisfy the forecasted national demand of 372,500 medical staff by 2015 and 480,000 by 2020, said Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health's Planning and Education Department Tran Quoc Kham.
Kham was speaking at an on-line conference on the development of human resources for the health sector yesterday in Ha Noi.
"Viet Nam is still short of quality health resources, especially university graduates, due to a lack of financial investment," said Kham.
Ministry of Health statistics showed that financial investment in health ministry managed universities from 2000-08 was very low.
A survey in 2008 found that Viet Nam had 40.5 medical staff (including 6.52 doctors and 1.22 pharmacists) per 10,000 people, a decrease of 2.6 compared with the figure in 1986.
"Even though medical resources are increasing every year, they still haven't caught up with the population growth rate," explained Kham.
"The development of a medical education system and the renewal of medical education programmes and methods are required to meet the country's demand for medical staff over the next decade," said Kham.
Vice Rector of the Can Tho Medical College Tran Ngoc Hung said the health sector should look at population growth compared to the number of medical staff because the gap had already started to widen in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region.
"There is only one medical university (the Can Tho Pharmaceutical and Medical University) in the Cuu Long Delta that encompasses 10 provinces and cities and is home to a quarter of the population," said Hung.
Hung also asked the health ministry to rotate skilled medical professors from Ha Noi and HCM City to help teaching activities in the Can Tho area.
Representatives of the Can Tho Medical and Pharmaceutical University said that priority should be given to enrolling more college graduates to the university.
Doctor Vo Tan Son from the HCM City Pharmaceutical and Medical University said that the health sector should also concentrate on retraining existing doctors with new techniques.
"Medical students don't want to return to poorer areas, even their native lands, due to financial reasons. That's why the heath sector should have appropriate policies to support those students," said Son.
Director of the HCM City Health Department Pham Ngoc Thanh said that the city had 37,000 medical staff, of which 86 per cent were involved in the examination and treatment, but only 8.3 per cent worked in the preventive activities.
The city has 12.4 doctors per 10,000 people.
"We expect to have 15 doctors per 10,000 people in 2015, equivalent to 15,600 doctors. It means that we have to train 2,850 more doctors in that time," said Thanh.
Health Minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu said that the ministry would ask the Government to allocate more of the State budget and ODA for the development of pharmaceutical and medical education facilities in the future.
Health statistics in 2007 showed that Viet Nam had nearly 280,000 medical staff, with 55,000 doctors and over 10,000 pharmacists that had graduated from universities. A total of 26 pharmaceutical and medical universities and colleges across the country trained 14,500 medical staff for the health sector in 2010, including 6,700 doctors and 2,800 pharmacists. — VNS