“Beyond common sense”—Southeast Asia faces acute shortages of health workers

  1. Sonia SarkarFreelance journalist
  1. Delhi
  1. 26.sarkar{at}gmail.com

Long working hours, low pay and the legacy of the pandemic are pushing health workers across Southeast Asia to leave the sector, exacerbating chronic labor shortages, reports Sonia Sarkar

Eli Mazur, 46, was rushed to the government hospital in Nguyen Moc, 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, when he suffered a head injury from a fall. After running from one end to the other for about 30 minutes, Mazur found only two nurses who offered to stitch up the cut. „It was difficult to find emergency health care in a rural area,” recalls YKVN’s life sciences advocate.

His experience is common to many Vietnamese who visit state-run hospitals, especially in rural areas. 12 over 1001 Public health workers left their jobs from January 2020 to June 2022.

developing economy,2 Life expectancy increases,3 And high demand for high quality4 Health services have put severe pressure on understaffed and underfunded public sector health facilities, which account for 86%.5 Hospitals of Vietnam. The Covid-19 pandemic has also left many young doctors and nurses overburdened by heavy patient load, long working hours, poor working conditions, low pay and corruption.6 Now they are moving from public sector to private sector for better opportunities.

Low pay, low morale

Bac Do, 32, is a cardiologist who spends about 10 hours a day at the government-run Bac Mai Hospital in Hanoi. He consults about 50 patients a day in the outpatient department and is assigned night shifts once a week.

At the height of the epidemic, like many of his colleagues, he carried out mass tests for SARS-CoV-2 in factories and businesses, provided vaccines and recorded data on infected people. „More than 300 healthcare professionals will leave the hospital in 2021 and 2022, many to pursue higher-paying jobs…

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