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Injury costs in Vietnam

New research into the impact of injuries in Vietnam has revealed the catastrophic costs of recovering from an injury.

With a population of 85.8 million, Vietnam is one of the most populous countries in the world. Every day, injuries claim almost 100 lives and cause hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions.

“Globally, injuries claim more lives than heart disease and malaria, and occur mainly among people under the age of 60. In Vietnam, they are also a major health concern. Before conducting this research we knew that the impact on a household’s medical expenses was considerable, given that healthcare costs are paid directly from the income of patients and their families. We wanted to confirm the true cost of recovering from an injury, so that policy makers can make well informed decisions to reduce the impact of injury in Vietnam,” said lead author Mr Ha Nguyen from The George Institute for Global Health.

Researchers reviewed almost 1000 cases of injuries to find the average cost of being hospitalised around US$365, which equates to an average six-month income. Burns, falls and road traffic injuries were the most common and most costly injuries, due to a longer hospital stay and more severe injuries. The complete findings were published online this month in Injury.

The 2010 Vietnam Living Standard Survey showed that a typical household spends 10% of their non-food expenditure on healthcare. In this new study, only 25% were covered by insurance for their treatment costs, and the remainder were forced to pay for direct medical costs. A substantial 26% of people in the study experienced catastrophic expenditure due to their injuries, where at least 40% of their income was spent on medical expenses, leading to financial hardship.

“There are a substantial number of households at risk of impoverishment due to road traffic injury, falls, burns and other injuries. While resources are limited, our research highlights the importance of programs to prevent injuries in Vietnam and supports the expansion of health insurance coverage for individuals who are at risk of coping with the financial consequences of injury”, added Professor Rebecca Ivers, Injury Research Director at The George Institute.