As of today, the emergence of non-communicable diseases poses a big challenge to Vietnam. About 33.18 percent of all deaths in Vietnam were from cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and ischemic heart disease, followed by chronic respiratory diseases such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The reasons for this include the high intake of salt and cholesterol, high tobacco use and air pollution in the country. The government has already implemented national programs that provide education on health risks and dietary behavior, as well as a department for preventive medicine to provide consultation on health topics.
With regard to communicable diseases, the number of malaria and tuberculosis deaths has been low compared to its neighboring countries. In 2017, only six deaths from malaria were reported in Vietnam. In the same year, there were 11 deaths per hundred thousand population from tuberculosis. In comparison, Laos had 30 deaths per hundred thousand population while Cambodia had 345 deaths per hundred thousand population from tuberculosis. However, HIV infections have been relatively high compared to other Southeast Asian nations. Here, Vietnam ranked fourth in South and Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. The reason for this is the lack of awareness of the disease among the population.
Vietnam has also made progress in the adequate provision of healthcare. The number of patient beds per 10,000 inhabitants has risen from 21.9 in 2010 to 28 in 2018. Moreover, the number of doctors per 10,000 inhabitants has increased to 28 in 2018, up from only 7.2 in 2010. In international comparison, Vietnam has scored above average for hospital bed density but still below average for health worker density. However, the Ministry of Health’s current Plan for People’s Health Protection, Care and Promotion 2016-2020 was designed to address this issue, among other challenges, with support from the WHO.
Like almost every country worldwide, Vietnam is currently working to achieve universal health care (UHC) by 2030 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The country has been progressing faster than many others in reaching universal health care targets ahead of schedule. Even though the scale of investments is relatively modest, the government uses its resources strategically. The Direction of Healthcare Activities program requires that health facilities at central and provincial levels help in shifting capacity to district and community facilities to avoid inefficiencies in the health system and overcrowded hospitals.