Deploying public-private health plans

May 17, 2022 | 08:00
Vietnam’s healthcare sector is urged to have a clearer legal framework for public-private partnership projects to increase attraction among members of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam. Vice chairman Torben Minko discussed with VIR’s Bich Thuy the future plans and legal recommendations for stakeholders to increase their contributions.
Deploying public-private health plans
Vice chairman Torben Minko

How do member companies of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) evaluate the potential of public-private partnership (PPP) development in Vietnam?

Vietnam has a promising opportunity for PPP development with a dynamic population, an increasing middle-income class, and also a rising need for high-quality products and services.

Currently, PPPs are not yet applied in the services area. Service-based PPPs can unlock further contributions from the private sector toward an inclusive, forward-looking, and sustainable healthcare system. As such, a legal framework is a key that is conducive to business via a predictable and sustainable environment.

EuroCham’s Healthcare Forum includes three sector committees namely Pharma Group (PG), International Quality Medicines (IQMED), and Medical Device Diagnostics (MDDs). The key interests of EuroCham members in PPP include machine installation models in hospitals, addressing public health concerns, strengthening the health system, and increasing patient access to innovative and high-quality medicines.

Without a clear legal system, PG members are still engaged in private collaboration projects with universities and hospitals to increase competency as well as the overall quality of the healthcare system in the form of continuous medical education, research and development capacity building, and clinical trials.

One example of the activities of PG members is the Healthy Lung Programme: the Ministry of Health (MoH) and AstraZeneca Vietnam are collaborating to enhance access to effective preventative healthcare and diagnosis through the provision of greater training to doctors through continuous medical education, as well as better equipment for early diagnosis.

The innovative pharmaceutical industry contributes similarly (whether under definition of PPP or not) in all the countries that we operate in.

As for IQMED, the Healthy Family Programme has been successfully deployed in low and middle-income countries, similar to the programme in Vietnam.

Another one is the Novartis Pandemic Response Portfolio, one of a broad range of solutions to help mitigate the impact on low-and middle-income countries and support healthcare systems. It offers zero-profit prices for governments, NGOs, and other institutional organisations in nearly 80 countries across the world. It includes 13 molecules and 18 products for treatment at various stages of the disease relating to COVID-19.

In the Medical Device and Diagnosis sector, many modern types of equipment have been invested, creating conditions for the deployment of high technology in medical examination and treatment, helping to better diagnose, detect diseases, treatment. One example in collaboration with the MoH is B.Braun Vietnam, by develop nursing standards that can provide suitable guides to practitioners in the applications and practice of safe intravenous therapy technique that were deployed with over 80 training in the country.

While the healthcare sector has made legal changes to further facilitate firms, foreign groups still face challenges in PPP performance. Have you seen any improvements among member firms in recent times?

We share the government’s aspiration to develop Vietnam into a destination of choice for high value-added investment in the pharma sector, ahead of other ASEAN countries. However, there are still barriers while doing business in Vietnam. Current policies and issues in implementation are significant deterrents, undermining the predictability and sustainability required to support such investment. The cost of doing business is higher on-year for pharma multinationals, impacting confidence to further invest.

There is also a need for a more appropriate legal framework that will drive PPPs to their potential. For MDD members, the placement instrument model has been implemented for many years but it has not been legally regulated, although there were documents aligned between the MoH and social insurance for this kind of model. We have learned that the draft of a decree regarding socialisation, including the placement model, has been developed and is in the final stages.

What are your member companies’ future plans to successfully tap into this area, and what are your recommendations to encourage more investment?

A more forward-looking PPP legal framework, especially for healthcare and integration into the National Healthcare Financing Strategy, is greatly anticipated. EuroCham’s Healthcare Forum members are committed to collaborating closely with the government to develop such a legal framework. In the MDD sector, we look forward to having a new decree covering the model of placement of medical instruments to be approved and issued soon.

In addition, sustainable policies and efficient implementation should be put in place across the three key pillars of drug registration, reimbursement, and public procurement. Also, placement policies should be circulated and training provided for relevant stakeholders in order to allow a better understanding of the policy, as well as full compliance with the law.

By Bich Thuy

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