Poor management abets Chinese medical fraud in HCMC

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Poor management by Ho Chi Minh City health authorities has led to several dubious Chinese-owned medical clinics cheating and even harming patients, a meeting concluded Thursday.

The HCMC Health Department convened the meeting to discuss the situation of foreign-invested medical clinics following recent exposure of wrongdoings at these clinics.

The department admitted it has not been able to control the number of unlicensed foreign-invested medical clinics, mostly Chinese-owned ones.

It said it was aware of the presence of only two Chinese and one South Korean medical clinic using Chinese traditional medicine treatment methods, while there are around 1,000 such clinics in the city.

Dr Tran Huu Vinh, chief of the department's Traditional Medicine Management Office, said most of the clinics found indulging in wrongdoing during recent inspections by the department had been registered as being operated by Vietnamese staff, but were using Chinese doctors to treat patients.

The clans were found violating many regulations including the use of expired medicines or medicines that lacked the proper certifications for use, charging patients exorbitant fees, employing unqualified or unlicensed staff, broadcasting false advertisements and performing procedures not registered with the Health Department.  

At the meeting, many Vietnamese doctors expressed their frustration, saying it is very difficult for Vietnamese doctors practicing traditional medicine treatment to get licenses, while it is easy for Chinese doctors to practice in Vietnam.

Recent complaints by patients against Chinese traditional medical clinics will also discredit Vietnamese doctors practicing traditional medicine, they said.

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According to the HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, it has licensed 116 Chinese doctors at seven Chinese medical clinics since 2004.

However, only 22 of the licenses have not expired, it said.

Participants at the meeting also pointed out that local authorities must be held responsible for the  misleading advertisements about Chinese medical clinics on the mass media.

Pham Khanh Phong Lan, deputy director of HCMC Health Department, denied the responsibility, saying the department cannot control the broadcasting of advertisements exaggerating the effectiveness of Chinese medical clinics.

"Approving the content of the ads about foreign-invested medical clinics is not within our authority," she said.

However, Le Van Chanh, an 83-year-old doctor, said it is obvious that the violating Chinese clinics were being protected by "authorized persons," since the wrongdoings have lasted for years now.

"Chinese quacks just have to pay money to get licenses in Vietnam," said Dr Truong Thin, chairman of HCMC Traditional Medicine and Acupuncture Society.

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