The World Health Organization’s early 21st century assessment ranked Vietnam’s health care system 160th of the 191 WHO member countries in overall performance. Households in Vietnam pay a large share of their income for health care, yet the quality of health care available to most Vietnamese is low. Although medical personnel may have good training, staffing levels in the country overall are inadequate. Medical facilities in Vietnam do not meet international standards and frequently lack medicines and supplies. Emergency medical response services are generally unresponsive, unreliable, or completely unavailable.
Medical personnel in Vietnam, particularly outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, may speak little or no English. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.
International health clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can provide acceptable care for minor illnesses and injuries, but more serious problems will often require medical evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore. Although many medications can be purchased at pharmacies without having a prescription, some medications common elsewhere are not available in Vietnam. Travelers should bring adequate supplies of medications for the duration of their stay in Vietnam.
Locating a Doctor
Embassies and consulates generally maintain lists of physicians, dentists, and medical facilities for the benefit of travelers. Also, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) maintains a database of fully licensed, English-speaking doctors around the world. Office visits are available to IAMAT members at fixed rates advertised on the website, www.iamat.org.
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