Huynh Van Biet, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Health, told Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien during her visit to HCM City on February 14 that seven hospital projects will help reduce the load.
The hospitals are to be built near the city's four gateways, and will accommodate 5,500 sick beds.
The plan also calls for an increase in the ratio of doctors for every 10,000 people, to 15 doctors by 2015 and 20 doctors by 2020.
Biet said that all of the general and specialised hospitals in the city have exceeded 100 percent of their capacity.
The hospitals have been overburdened with patients because of the high number of people admitted from other provinces, even though grassroots-level hospitals do not operate at their full capacity.
Higher living standards and more convenient transportation conditions have enabled people to travel to big cities where specialised hospitals are equipped with modern facilities and highly skilled doctors.
The patient overload is the worst at cardiovascular, cancer, paediatrics and functional rehabilitation hospitals in the city, Biet said, adding that this year the city will be spending VND80-100 billion (US$3.8-4.8 million) in upgrading district-level hospitals.
Minister Tien said the overload has become worse as more patients are coming to city hospitals, although the ministry has developed a project to send doctors to grassroots-level hospitals.
She suggested developing facilities at central-level hospitals as the only solution to the problem.
The ministry is collecting opinions so that it can outline a plan to solve the problems, Tien said.
In HCM City, the health minister said that satellite hospitals of central hospitals should be built in provincial areas to reduce the overloading at central hospitals.
The ratio of hospital beds in Vietnam, 20.5 per 10,000 people, is low compared to the 33 considered to be the minimum level set by World Health Organisation. It is 86 in the Republic of Korea and 140 in Japan.
The health sector has implemented several measures to minimise hospital overload, including increasing the number of hospital beds and working hours, simplifying administrative procedures, adopting IT solutions and encouraging private-sector investment in the health sector, including the opening of private hospitals.