Vietnamese patients ‘pay high price’ for STD treatment at Chinese-owned clinics

Some patients have paid up to VND100 million ($4,390) to treat common STDs such as gonorrhea and genital warts

The packs of medicine lacking origin that were sold to N.D.T. by his Chinese doctor at a private clinic in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Many Vietnamese citizens with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have sought treatment at private clinics, mostly run by Chinese doctors, to avoid embarrassment, only to find themselves develop more serious complications and losing large sums of money.

The Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Dermato Venereology receives hundreds of patients on a monthly basis.

Most of them have claimed to have had their ‘sensitive’ illnesses treated at Chinese-owned medical facilities.

N.D.T., 24, who is from the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang and currently works in Ho Chi Minh City, said he had been infected with gonorrhea after a sexual encounter with a prostitute.

After searching online for a remedy, T. was approached by a representative of a Chinese clinic in District 5, who said that his illness was life-threatening and required immediate treatment.

On July 10, T. arrived at the venue, paying VND1.2 million (US$52.6) for an ultrasound, blood and urine test, before having a minor surgery performed by a Chinese doctor.

The medical practitioner said T. needed an emergency infusion, which cost another VND6.8 million ($298.5).

Following the procedure, the doctor advised his patient to continue his treatment for three to five days and gave him some medicine of unknown origin for VND250,000 ($10.98) per pack.

T. said he spent a total of VND11 million ($483) on the first day and an additional VND12 million ($131.7) during three follow-up visits.

As the patient’s condition failed to improve after four days of treatment, the doctor reassured him that the disease required a long-term remedy.

Due to a limited budget, T. paid VND500,000 ($21.9) after his fourth follow-up and the rest could be paid later, though his ID and driving license was kept by the clinic as a guarantee.

On July 17, the man came to the Hospital of Dermato Venereology, where a doctor gave him a Ceftriaxone injection and two Azithromycin pills.

Costing a total of VND500,000, T.’s sickness was completely cured after one day.

Lack of information

According to Le Quoc Trung, a senior doctor at the infirmary, most patients like T. claimed they lacked information regarding the treatment of their STDs.

Given their embarrassment, they often searched for remedies on the Internet and fall into the trap of visiting Chinese-own private clinics.

Doctors at these facilities often exaggerated the severity of their patients’ conditions to trick them into emptying their pockets.

Some people recalled having to pay VND50 million ($2,195) or even VND100 million ($4,390) to have their gonorrhea or genital warts treated at these Chinese medical centers, Dr. Trung said.

Some of the medical procedures and medication prescribed by doctors are not even relevant to the common treatment of STDs, he added.

In T.’s case, the infusions are not listed as a cure for gonorrhea, while the medicine without origin does not have a clear intended effect, the doctor elaborated.

It is recommended that patients have their illnesses treated at reputable hospitals, where doctors have the correct knowledge and experience in dealing with STDs, Dr. Trung said.

Common STDs such as syphilis and gonorrhea can be easily cured at an affordable cost, he added.

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