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Vietnamese spend billions of USD on overseas healthcare services

Vietnamese spend billions of USD on overseas healthcare services

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam’s healthcare sector has made big progress in recent years, but many people still want to go abroad to have treatment, even for diseases which can be treated in Vietnam. 


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Vietnamese spend big money on overseas healthcare services



DTH, 53, in HCMC, has been a lung cancer patient for 12 years. H said she experienced treatment in Singapore for six years and in Vietnam for six years.

In 2006, she was diagnosed with lung cancer at Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC and had her tumor removed. Later, she flew to Singapore for chemotherapy.

In 2006-2012, Hoa traveled between Vietnam and Singapore over 10 times and the trips cost her billions of dong. The first spell of chemotherapy alone cost her VND400 million. In addition, she had to pay for air tickets, accommodations, meals and medicine. 

A report showed that Vietnamese patients go abroad mostly to have treatment for cancer, and cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases, or to receive kidney & liver transplants or reproductive services.

“I drank this kind of medicine for three years. A box of 100 tablets was priced at $3,700,” she recalled the day in Singapore.

Later, she decided to have treatment in Vietnam because she met a good doctor in 2012.

“Vietnamese doctors have good knowledge, but they are not good in giving consultancy,” she said.

Nguyen Trong Khoa from the Ministry of Health said it’s impossible to reckon how much money Vietnamese spend on healthcare services overseas because patients make payments through many methods.

He estimated that in previous years, Vietnamese spent about $1 billion a year on the services, but the figure had decreased in recent years. 

A report showed that Vietnamese patients go abroad mostly to have treatment for cancer, and cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases, or to receive kidney & liver transplants or reproductive services.

Phu Chi Dung, Director of the HCMC Blood Transfusion – Hematology Hospital, said Vietnamese patients go abroad because they want better services. Also, some kinds of medicine are still not available in Vietnam. 

Some go abroad to have treatment because they don’t want other people to know about their illness. A high number of patients returned to Vietnam because of the high treatment cost overseas, or because their diseases become incurable.

Also according to Dung, healthcare services overseas are very expensive. A bone marrow transplant case in Vietnam costs $8,000-15,000 only, while it is 10 times higher in Singapore and five times higher in Taiwan. All the countries apply the same treatment regimen.

Nguyen Hoai Nam from the HCM City Medical University commented that Vietnamese don’t have confidence in Vietnam’s medicine, though Vietnam’s healthcare sector has improved significantly in recent years. 

The Medical University Hospital and Cho Ray Hospital have experience in laparoscopic surgery to cut out colorectal tumors and Malaysian surgeons visit here to learn the skills. But Vietnamese still have surgery overseas at a cost higher by 17 times.

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