Vietnam and Cambodia trimmed health spending

19:14 | 05/06/2018
While most of the emerging markets in Asia has increased its overall spending on health as a share of GDP since 2000, Cambodia and Vietnam have trimmed their allocations to health, according to ANZ Research on Greater Mekong Economic Outlook.

In particular, Cambodia spent almost 6 per cent of its GDP in 2015 on health, down from 7.8 per cent in 2004, while the decline in health spending in Vietnam has been more recent, falling to 5.7 per cent in 2015 from 6.5 per cent in 2012.

vietnam and cambodia trimmed health spending

The decline in health spending in Vietnam was mostly due to the gradual cuts in government subsidies. A policy of socialisation of the health sector has led to allowing treatment fees in hospitals. Over time, hospitals have increasingly diversified their sources of funding, moving from the state to more treatment fees and private payments.

Since 2012, Vietnam has been slowly raising the cost of healthcare, easing the burden on the state coffers. The private sector took up the slack as its participation rose to 47 per cent in 2015 from 40 per cent in 2012.

vietnam and cambodia trimmed health spending

As a result, the out-of-pocket spending in both Vietnam and Cambodia rose between 2000 and 2015. On the other hand, the share of out-of-pocket spending declined over the same period in Thailand, Lao, and Myanmar.

In assessing the quality of the universal health system, the research body of the bank looked at the UHC Service Coverage Index (2015) developed by the World Bank, which integrates a number of indicators in measuring service coverage and financial protection. Basically, it looks at the number of people who are eligible to receive all the essential services they would need without suffering financial hardship.

“We find that Thailand and Vietnam score relatively high at 75 and 73, respectively, even outperforming the EM Asia average of 67,” the report read.

EM Asia, as per ANZ Research, includes China, India, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

vietnam and cambodia trimmed health spending

By Trang Nguyen

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