Conference debates decision to equitise state-run hospitals

May 24, 2007 | 18:12
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The proposed equitisation of some state-owned hospitals came under fire from participants at the National Conference on Pilot Equitisation of State-owned Hospitals held late last week.
A number of participants questioned the advantages of putting hospitals through the equitisation process, with major concerns over how former public health services would be managed as profit making enterprises.
Prior to the conference, Pham Viet Muon, the Government Office deputy head, told a press conference in Ho Chi Minh City that “the equitising of public services is a very sensitive issue and the government will [have to] proceed very carefully”.
The two-day national conference aimed at providing an update on the pilot equitisation of state-owned hospitals and was also an occasion for national public health managers to meet, exchange views and experiences relating to this process with domestic and foreign consultants.
The conference covered issues such as experience in equitising health services in the region, the role of investors after the hospital was equitised and experience in managing the hospital after equitisation.
“Up to now, there has been no government decision to equitise any hospitals. All depends on the final decision by the prime minister,” Muon said.
Earlier, in a meeting set up to hear opinions from a number of agencies regarding hospital equitisation , most participants said they believed equitising state-owned hospitals would result in poor people paying higher hospital charges.
A representative of the Veterans Association said he was worried that poorer people would not be able to enjoy the services of public health care because of equitisation. During the conference it came to light that many participants were of the opinion that the policy to equitise state-owned hospitals was appropriate for mobilising social strengths and changing management methods effectively. However, many question debated the best equitisation model so as to produce optimal results.
Muon said it was advisable to consult with many agencies like the Father land Front, trade unions, women’ associations, the War Veterans Association and people of all walks of life before making a decision to equitise any hospitals.
“If we are not careful we will transform the popular hospital into an unpopular hospital,” Muon said.
There is also conflict amongst the general populace, with some stating that equitisation would improve service quality, and others arguing that an equitised hostpital would be under pressure to pay dividends to shareholders so it would have to make maximum profits.
They warned that profits from patients would undermine service quality.

By Chau Ky Giang

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