Bribery has been so common at Vietnamese hospitals for so long that many people don’t even consider it corruption, experts told a healthcare conference in Hanoi Tuesday.
Up to 70 percent of health workers in Vietnam are involved in ethically-questionable medical practices and nine percent of them take bribes during patients’ treatment, UNDP policy advisor Jairo Acuna-Alfaro quoted a report by Hanoi University of Medicine as saying.
Dang Ngoc Dinh, director of the Center of Community Research and Development at the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association, agreed with the statement.
He said many patients he had surveyed recently said they believed it was not wrong to give doctors “under-the-table” money while doctors considered it a “clean” source of income.
The Hanoi University of Medicine report showed that up to 37 percent of those surveyed said they did not consider health workers taking “extra” money or gifts after doing their jobs as corruption.
Eighteen percent said it was hard to tell what is and is not corruption, according to the report, which didn’t say how many people were surveyed.
World Bank representative Martin Rama, meanwhile, said corruption in the health industry was hurting the poor, who already had difficulty affording treatment fees.
However, Tran Quang Trung, chief inspectorate of the Ministry of Health, didn’t agree that the problem was so widespread. He said that out of 200,000 health workers, there were bound to be some rotten apples.
The conference also reviewed a World Bank report on competitiveness in Vietnam’s drug market, which showed that pharmaceutical sales representatives and drug distributors were collaborating to fix drug prices while also paying doctors commissions to recommend and prescribe their most expensive products.
A representative from the Asian Development Bank said drugs in Vietnam are the most expensive in Southeast Asian region due to commissions paid to pharmacists and doctors who push expensive medicine.
Source: Nguoi Lao Dong