The National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology in Hanoi, the country’s top facility in the field, is running out of anesthetic and may have to shut down, its doctors said.
“We will be out of anesthetic in the next two weeks. It’s a total headache looking for replacements,” said Pham Thanh Ha, deputy director of the hospital.
The risk of its closing down is “very high,” Ha said, adding that two thirds of its outpatient services need anesthetic.
There are several phamarceutical companies that import anesthetic to Vietnam, but their distribution licenses have not been renewed.
Ha said the hospital has sought support from the Ministry of Health to simplify procedures for the import and distribution of the drug, but has not received a response.
In Vietnam, a drug distribution license will expire after five years and a business needs to perform different procedures to register for a new one.
The license renewal process got delayed during two years of Covid when medical task forces were spread thin, leading to heavy backlogs.
Major hospitals Bach Mai in Hanoi and Cho Ray in Ho Chi Minh City are also short of antidotes and antivenom for a similar reason.
Vietnam has been suffering from shortages of drugs and medical equipment since April.
In Hanoi and HCMC, certain hospitals lack even basic equipment like needles and certain drugs. Besides the licensing delay, causes have also been attributed to bidding procedures for drugs and medical supplies.