How the Medical system works in Vietnam

The quality of healthcare is quite poor. Medical facilities in Vietnam, including emergency response services, frequently do not meet international standards and may lack medicine and supplies. In addition, in the event of an illness requiring major care, a medical evacuation must be considered.

The Vietnamese healthcare system has gone through many developments since the reforms of 1986: creation of the private sector, financial autonomy of public hospitals, and improvement of hospital equipment, especially in large cities. However, there are still some disparities in the level of access to healthcare between the urban and rural areas and also in the private sector which is poorly controlled by the State.


Visiting a doctor in Vietnam

GPs in Vietnam
Medical personnel generally speak little or no English.

As far as the cost of healthcare is concerned, it is very affordable: a consultation with a general practitioner averages between 10 and 15 euros (between 13,600 and 20,000 South Korean won).In a general manner, doctors practice in hospitals. In the event of a serious condition, it is recommended to proceed with a medical evacuation to a neighboring country (Hong Kong, Thailand (Bangkok), Singapore) where more advanced medical technologies are available.

Consultation fees in the private sector can cost between VND 844 (USD 40) and VND 2,111 (USD 100).

Specialist doctors in Vietnam
Vietnamese people strongly value the Vietnamese traditional medicine which is very similar to the Chinese traditional medicine (acupuncture, plant-based remedies and exercises such as tai-chi and qi-gong as well as tui-na massages).

Being admitted to hospital in Vietnam

Vietnamese hospitals
It is recommended to go to private hospitals in large cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh or Danang. International health clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can treat minor illnesses and injuries, but more serious problems often require medical evacuation to other cities in the region.

Public hospitals are often overcrowded, do not have the necessary equipment and qualified medical staff are lacking.

The quality of medical care may be different from one hospital to another and in the event of surgery, you usually need to make cash advances.

Private hospitals provide better services but the cost of medical care is high, which is why it is important to take out international healthcare insurance coverage in Vietnam.

It is extremely important that travelers have sufficient funds and/or insurance to cover any potential medical costs.  Frequently hospitals will hold onto a patient’s passport as collateral for payment, and patients may have difficulty getting their passport back without paying their medical bills in full.  Patients who do not pay their medical bills in full also run the risk of being barred from departing the country.

As there are not enough ambulances, there are some illegal ambulances going around in large cities: we advise you to be vigilant.

Private hospitals have their own ambulance service; it is recommended to use these services in the event of an emergency.


Buying medication in Vietnam

You need to be very careful when buying your drugs because counterfeit drugs are very common in Vietnam, even in “official” pharmacies.

It is recommended to go to Vietnam with your entire treatment rather than buying it locally and ensure with the Ministry of Health that the medicine you need is allowed to enter Vietnam. You should carry a copy of your prescription if carrying medicine in a travel case or container. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

If you need to buy drugs locally, make sure you check the expiry date (expired drugs are often ineffective and can cause poisoning). In addition, it is recommended to buy drugs in the pharmacies of private hospitals or in the pharmacies recommended by the network of embassies.

Although you can purchase many prescription and non-prescription medications at pharmacies, some common US medications may not be available.

Air quality in Vietnam

Air pollution is a significant problem in Vietnam’s major cities, and you should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact that seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you.

To obtain information on the air quality in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, please follow the link to the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s Air Quality Index (AQI) can be observed either by clicking on the Vietnam location on the map, or by selecting Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City in the “Select a City” option on the upper right part of the page. The page provides AQI over the last 24-hour period as well as pollutant concentration and a downloadable historical document.

Source: US Department of State, MSH International