Before the 19th century, identified as oriental traditional medicine, Viet Nam’s medicine used mainly herbs. In late 19th century, western medicine was introduced to Viet Nam. At that time, clinics could only be found in big cities, while in rural areas, traditional medicine remained common treatment.
When the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was born in September 1945, a healthcare system started to be built. The Medical University was established in the Viet Bac war zone in 1949. Even during that early stage, Medical University, Research Institute and hospitals had managed to produce some basic medications such as penicillin and malaria medicine. After reunification in April 1975, the healthcare sector started to develop rapidly with renowned doctors and numerous achievements that have earned international recognition.
Public healthcare system plays the leading role in healthcare and is divided into 3 levels: central, provincial and local (including district, commune and hamlet). In addition to public healthcare system, Viet Nam has also developed a private healthcare network. There are now 74 private hospitals with 5,600 beds and over 30,000 private clinics.
Achievements in Healthcare
According to the World Bank, “Viet Nam’s achievements in healthcare are widely recognizable. Mortality rate of children under 1 and 5 years old is at the same level as those higher income countries. Viet Nam’s healthcare service reaches to commune/ward level which enables a wide coverage of preventive intervention and access to basic intervention of a majority of the population”.
According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Viet Nam has a good family planning, birth rate and infant indicators compared to GDP per capita. Viet Nam is a typical example in UNFPA’s development program over 30 years.
Poliomyelitis and tetanus among infants were eliminated in 2000 and leprosy in 2005. Viet Nam has managed to limit the rate of HIV/AIDS increase and prevent new epidemic diseases of SARS and H5N1. Recurrent healthcare spending stands at 6.1% of state budget.
Traditional Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare
Viet Nam has a long traditional healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Before introduction of modern healthcare and pharmaceuticals, traditional ones have been used through thousands years of national construction and defence. Today, the study and development of traditional medicine prescriptions and treatment continue to grow. Some local medicines are widely used to treat common and chronic diseases. At present, 450 establishments nationwide manufacture traditional medicines with 2,000 Vietnamese traditional medical products. Every year, approximately 30% of the patients are examined by and treated with traditional medicine.
Viet Nam is an eager-learning nation. Under Viet Nam’s feudal courts, academic examination and culture development enjoyed much attention. The Temple of Literature, Viet Nam’s first university, was established in 1076 to train talents. Today, the State of Viet Nam considers education a top priority in the national policy. After the country’s reunification, a complete education system was formed. Education has been socialized with different sources of investment. Teaching and training methods are diversified. School management is democratized while content, method and facilities are modernized. At present, a complete, unified educational system has been established throughout the country encompassing all education levels, skill training methods and school types. Education budget has increasingly grown from 15.5% in 2001 to 20% in recent years. Viet Nam strives to establish an advanced education by 2020 to meet the demand of national modernization, industrialization and international integration.
Education Law stipulates that education is the right and obligation of citizens. Every citizen has equal opportunities for education. The State favours and facilitates children of ethnic minorities, children from families in disadvantaged areas, the handicapped or those under other preferential policies to perform their right and obligation to education.
National Education System
Pre-school education consists of kinder-garden and pre-primary education. General education has primary education, junior secondary education, and senior secondary education. Professional education has professional secondary and vocational schools. Higher education provides education at college, university, master and PhD level.
Certificates are granted at the end of each schooling phase including primary, junior and senior secondary school and vocational training. There is also a college diploma, a bachelor, a master and a PhD degree.
Vocational training has increased 2.4 times, from 255,000 students in 2000 to over 614.000 students in 2008. Viet Nam sets the target of 30% of senior secondary school graduates enrolled in vocational training in 2020. There are over 500 vocational training centres, including 276 vocational training schools and 230 universities/colleges/institutes that offer vocational training in 300 specialized majors. 43% of students are enrolled in economic-service-management training programs; 25% enrolled in industry – construction training.
Viet Nam’s education has significantly developed over past years. National education system has been improved and expanded, particularly in tertiary education and vocational training; education quality has also been enhanced. From a country with the illiteracy rate of 95% in 1945, by 2000, Viet Nam had eradicated illiteracy and completed primary educational universalization. Viet Nam is universalizing junior school education; 51/63 provinces or 81% have completed junior secondary school universalization. 1.2 million University and college students who are confronted with difficulties in coming to university/college have been provided financial assistance (out of 3.2 million students nationwide). Male and female literacy gap has been narrowed; Viet Nam has basically achieved gender equality in education.
The State of Viet Nam attaches great importance to international cooperation in education so as to get wider access to the world’s progress in education and training. Through international cooperation, Viet Nam has established new directions for training and application of scientific research in the fields of basic sciences, social sciences and humanities, economic, agro-forestry, electronic-telecommunication, automation, medicine and environment. Annually, thousands of students, interns and research students are dispatched abroad with scholarships and financial aid provided by many countries such as the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, EU, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, Thailand, the U.S.A and Canada.
Currently, self-financed studying abroad and on-the-spot training (in Viet Nam) are two common forms of cooperation among universities and institutes of Viet Nam and foreign partners with an aim to train Vietnamese students. Some renowned training centres have been established in Viet Nam such as the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), the France-Viet Nam Centre, Viet Nam – Singapore Training Centre and RMIT University.