Med­i­cal im­ports un­der scru­tiny

Scan­dals in­volv­ing old or out-of-date equip­ment have trig­gered a re­sponse

Viet Nam News - - FRONT PAGE -

— Ex­perts have asked for tighter con­trols on the im­por­ta­tion of med­i­cal equip­ment in a bid to im­prove the qual­ity of health­care ser­vice in Vieät Nam.

The call was made fol­low­ing a num­ber of scan­dals in- volv­ing the dis­cov­ery of sub­stan­dard or faulty im­ported equip­ment in health­care cen­tres in re­cent months.

Nguyeãn Vaên Tieân, deputy chair­man of the Na­tional Assem­bly’s Com­mit­tee...

... on So­cial Af­fairs, said the Min­istry of Health should draft a law on man­ag­ing med­i­cal equip­ments.

Tieân added that med­i­cal equip­ment must un­dergo com­pre­hen­sive in­stead of ran­dom checks to guar­an­tee its qual­ity. How­ever, there are many con­cerns about the ap­pli­ca­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive check on med­i­cal equip­ment im­ports.

Most of the med­i­cal equip­ment im­ported from for­eign sup­pli­ers was prof­itable in the mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to Nguyeãn Minh Tuaán, di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Med­i­cal Equip­ment and Health Fa­cil­i­ties.

He said com­pa­nies could find nu­mer­ous ways to com­mit trade fraud, in­clud­ing coun­ter­feit le­gal pa­pers and formalities, false dec­la­ra­tion of im­ported com­modi­ties and prod­uct codes, and the mix­ing of var­i­ous types of com­modi­ties.

The health of­fi­cial added that the com­pa­nies should be held re­spon­si­ble for such vi­o­la­tions, and not the min­istry.

“Pre­vi­ously, we put tight man­age­ment on X-ray equip­ment and im­age-di­ag­no­sis equip­ment, but re­cently we have seen vi­o­la­tions re­lated to im­por­tant test­ing equip­ments, which can bring about high prof­its,” Tuaán said.

He said for ex­am­ple, com­pa­nies could take ad­van­tage of lax cus­tom reg­u­la­tions to im­port old equip­ment, but de­clare it new or avoid fur­ther in­spec­tion if they didn ’ t de­clare it was med­i­cal equip­ment.

Com­pa­nies could also mix var­i­ous prod­ucts in a con­tainer to avoid in­spec­tion.

He also said cus­toms posts had been asked to tighten the check­ing process for med­i­cal equip­ment to avoid sim­i­lar cases.

“The checks on med­i­cal equip­ment must be done strictly, since this type of prod­uct can have a huge im­pact on peo­ple’s health,” he added.

In mid-Au­gust, the Haø Noäi Mar­ket Man­age­ment Depart­ment seized 12 al­legedly sub­stan­dard items of med­i­cal equip­ment from three pri­vate health clin­ics in Haø Ñoâng Dis­trict ’ s Phuøng Höng Street.

The equip­ment in­cluded Xray, ul­tra­sound and ECG ma­chines. The own­ers of the first two clin­ics could not pro­duce any doc­u­ments to show the place of man­u­fac­ture of the ma­chines.

At the last clinic, the mar­ket man­age­ment depart­ment found an ECG ma­chine be­ing used with­out any qual­ity ver­i­fi­ca­tion done by au­tho­rised agen­cies.

No­tably, in July, the Haø Noäi Depart­ment of Health had to con­duct con­sec­u­tive in­spec­tions at five dis­trict-level hos­pi­tals across the city after the city-based Thöôøng Tín hos­pi­tal was caught us­ing a med­i­cal ma­chine with­out doc­u­ments to prove its ori­gin.

The move fol­lowed a pre­vi­ous in­spec­tion by in­spec­tors and of­fi­cials from the mu­nic­i­pal Depart­ment of Health, Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment po­lice and Thöôøng Tín Dis­trict Po­lice found that an au­to­mated bio­chem­i­cal anal­yser had been bor­rowed from an out­side company.

The hos­pi­tal’s lab­o­ra­tory has three biochemal anal­y­sers, in­clud­ing one that is bro­ken, a Greiner GA240 in­stalled by the De­part- ment of Health, and a bor­rowed Hi­tachi 717, which is long out of pro­duc­tion and has been placed on Vieät Nam’s list of pro­hib­ited im­ports.

Vuõ Xuaân Tieàn, com­mis­sioner of the Haø Noäi Lawyers ’ As­so­ci­a­tion’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, ob­served: “There is a lack of cus­toms of­fi­cers for the con­duct of com­pre­hen­sive checks on all types of im­ports.”

Com­pa­nies that have been strictly fol­low­ing cus­toms pro­ce­dures, pay­ing taxes and com­mit­ting no vi­o­la­tions should be pri­ori­tised in cus­toms ser­vices, Tieàn added.

A Cus­toms Depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive agreed with Tieàn, say­ing com­pa­nies would file com­plaints when­ever cus­toms of­fices were strict.

The cus­toms of­fi­cers al­ways had to iden­tify the prod­ucts, com­pa­nies and trad­ing data­base that were pri­ori­tised for com­pre­hen­sive checks and could only de­ter­mine com­pli­ance with cus­toms dec­la­ra­tions rather than prod­uct qual­ity, the cus­toms rep­re­sen­ta­tive noted.

He pro­posed that the Min­istry of Health take re­spon­si­bil­ity for mon­i­tor­ing med­i­cal equip­ment in hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal cen­tres if the equip­ment was li­censed. To mon­i­tor the med­i­cal equip­ment, it should in­spect the con­di­tion and qual­ity of the ma­chines and re­port low-qual­ity equip­ment to the Gen­eral Cus­toms Depart­ment.

This could serve as the ba­sis for cus­toms of­fices to cat­e­gorise prod­ucts and im­prove per­for­mance.

Tieân of the NA Com­mit­tee on So­cial Af­fairs pro­posed that the min­istry or­gan­ise auc­tions to en­sure the pur­chase of high-qual­ity med­i­cal equip­ment at rea­son­able prices. How­ever, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­sur­ing the qual­ity of auc­tioned equip­ment for hos­pi­tals and health care cen­tres should fall on the shoul­ders of bid­ding or­gan­is­ers.

To im­prove health­care ser­vices and re­duce pro­ce­dures and ex­penses for peo­ple, Tieân said the min­istry should set the stan­dards for test­ing and ex­am­i­na­tion of all med­i­cal equip­ment. This, he added, would im­prove the cred­i­bil­ity and con­fi­dence of up­per-level hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal cen­tres.

It’s es­ti­mated that 80 per cent of med­i­cal equip­ment is im­ported. —

Doc­tors per­form a gy­nae­co­log­i­cal en­doscopy surgery at Haûi Phoøng Ma­ter­nity Hos­pi­tal. Ex­perts have asked for tighter con­trols on med­i­cal equip­ment im­port fol­low­ing a num­ber of scan­dals in­volv­ing health­care equip­ment re­cently. — VNA/VNS Photo Döông Ngoïc.

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