Vietnam has made significant progress in improving the population’s health parallel to its economic development. An average Vietnamese could now expect to live to 75 years, compared to 70 years in the 1990s. This is relatively high compared to countries with similar GDP per capita. As people live longer, both the public and private sectors have been striving to meet the population’s growing healthcare demands. For example, the number of hospitals in Vietnam is rising fast, especially in the number of private facilities.
Improvements in healthcare
Vietnam’s current health expenditure per capita is one of the highest in the Southeast Asia region. Although improvements are still needed, the country had made progress in increasing both the ratio of patient beds, as well as doctors. In addition, Vietnam is currently working to achieve universal healthcare by 2030 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, the majority of the Vietnamese population were covered by health insurance.
As a result, there had been significant improvements in its population’s health, such as a decline in the infant mortality rate. However, the mortality rate among infants in rural areas was twice as high as in urban areas. The gap between the state of Vietnam’s healthcare systems in rural and urban areas is one of the important issues to be addressed. The other is to prepare the Vietnamese healthcare system for the demands of a rapidly aging population. By 2050, the share of people over 65 years old was forecast to reach more than 20 percent of the Vietnamese population.
Vietnam's success story against COVID-19
Despite being among the first countries to record a COVID-19 case outside of China, Vietnam had one of the lowest COVID-19 cases in the Asia Pacific region at the beginning of the pandemic. The country was praised for its proactive approach to containing the outbreaks, with a strategy based on comprehensive testing, tracing, and centralized quarantining. At the beginning of 2021, Vietnam began to administer its first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, starting with front-line health care workers. The largest-ever vaccination campaign in the country truly scaled up in the middle of 2021, involving private and public healthcare institutions alike, as well as the military, the police, and neighborhood wardens to reach as many people in the shortest amount of time possible. Within a few months, Vietnam became one of the countries with the highest vaccination rate against COVID-19 in Asia, despite having a slower start than many of its neighbors. In 2022, the country has lifted its travel restrictions implemented earlier due to the pandemic, signaling Vietnam's readiness for a new phase of living with COVID-19.
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