• non-communicable diseases;
  • health system;
  • primary care;
  • rural;
  • Vietnam



The primary care system in Vietnam has been shown to play a crucial role in disease prevention and health promotion. This study described the primary care system in a selected rural area in Vietnam in terms of its capacity for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).


The study was conducted in 2011 in Dong Hy district, Thai Nguyen province—a rural community located in northern Vietnam. Mixed methods were used, including quantitative and qualitative and literature review approaches, to collect data on the current status of the six building blocks of the primary care system in Dong Hy district. Selected health workers and stakeholders in the selected healthcare facilities were surveyed.


A description of Dong Hy district's primary care capacity for NCD prevention and control is reported. (i) Service delivery: The current practice in NCD prevention and treatment is mainly based on a single risk factor rather than a combination of cardiovascular disease risks. (ii) Governance: At the primary care level, multi-sectoral collaborations are limited, and there is insufficient integration of NCD preventive activities. (iii) Financing: A national budget for NCD prevention and control is lacking. The cost of treatment and medicines is high, whereas the health insurance scheme limits the list of available medicines and the reimbursement ceiling level. Health workers have low remuneration despite their important roles in NCD prevention. (iv) Human resources: The quantity and quality of health staff working at the primary care level, especially those in preventive medicine, are insufficient. (v) Information and research: The health information system in the district is weak, and there is no specific information system for collecting population-based NCD data. (vi) Medical products and technology: Not all essential equipment and medicines recommended by the WHO are always available at the commune health centre.


The capacity of the primary care system in Vietnam is still inadequate to serve the NCD-related health needs of the population. There is an urgent need to improve the primary care capacity for NCD prevention and management in Vietnam. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.