Thousands of HIV/AIDS patients in Vietnam could face a shortage of medication as foreign donors pull out, an advocate for patients said Tuesday.
Most treatment of Vietnam's 260,000 HIV patients comes from or through US government agency Pepfar, which has said it aims to stop providing most services and support by 2018 as Vietnam becomes wealthier. To meet the shortfall, people living with HIV/AIDS will have to buy government health insurance policies to cover their treatment.
The number of patients dependent on insurance is expected to rise from a projected 17,000 in 2017 to 51,000 in 2018, said patients' advocate Do Dang Dong, chairman of the Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. "We aren't in crisis mode, but we are a middle-income country already, so most of our international funding will stop," he told dpa on Tuesday.
Few of the country's HIV patients can afford health insurance, according to Trinh Thi Le Tram, director of the Centre for Law, Healthcare and HIV/AIDS, in comments to a government-hosted panel in Hanoi on June 27 reported by Vietnam News.
"They usually cannot afford health insurance cards, and they need significant medical care to treat opportunistic infections in addition to their anti-retroviral treatment," Tram said.
Vietnam's budget will face a crunch as it steps in to provide the mandatory free healthcare to poorer families, Dong said.
The funding restrictions will place a further burden on healthcare delivery to poorer HIV patients, in addition to the current obstacles of stigma and bureaucracy, he said.