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Vietnamese spend $1 bln a year on treatment abroad: ministry

Around 30,000 Vietnamese patients spend over US$1 billion on overseas treatment a year, the Ministry of Health told a two-day conference starting Friday in Ho Chi Minh City.


The ministry's Finance and Planning Department also reported that over 30,000 private clinics and 102 major private hospitals, including four foreign-invested ones, are operating nationwide.


Currently the country has over 70 healthcare projects with a total registered investment of nearly $1 billion, the meeting heard.


The health ministry said the government has recently made many changes to investment policies in health industry, including offering preferential tax rates, but local and foreign investment was still limited and unsatisfactory given Vietnam's potential and advantages.


The World Bank's International Finance Corporation said Vietnam's healthcare market faced two main shortcomings an underdeveloped private insurance network and the lack of qualified human resources.


Unclear and inconsistent policies are also deterring investment in the field, it said.


In the meantime, infrastructure at state-owned health clinics is substandard and lags behind regional countries, the ministry said. It also noted that just 10 percent of state budget allocation for healthcare was spent on developing new projects.