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Improving military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities under the conditions of market economy

Military medical cadres act as a main force of the Military Medical Branch and a determinant to ensuring troops’ fitness and maintaining combat readiness of the Vietnam People’s Army. Hence, enhancing military medical staff members’ qualities and capabilities in the conditions of market economy is a matter of utmost importance.

Over the past 70 years of construction and development, military medical cadres and the Military Medical Branch have always well implemented the guidelines and policies on healthcare by our Party and State, while combining military medical services with public healthcare in their stationed areas, thus contributing to taking care of the people’s health, maintaining national defence and security, effectively executing social security policies, particularly in the remote, isolated, border, sea, island areas, and performing the international humane missions. 

In recent years, the national construction and protection task and the Military build-up have witnessed new developments imposing more demanding requirements on the Military Medical Branch. Therefore, military medical cadres must have sufficient qualities and capabilities on a par with those requirements. More specifically, they must have political zeal, pure professional ethics, healthy lifestyle, scientific, democratic, and disciplined working method and professional competence so that they could fulfil all assigned tasks. Those qualities and capabilities are closely combined with one another and profoundly express ethics and talent of military physicians and officers of the Vietnam People’s Army.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Tran Don, Deputy Minister of National Defence visiting the Military Institute of Traditional Medicine (photo:

Over the past 30 years plus, our country has conducted a comprehensive reform and developed a socialist-oriented market economy, thereby stipulating the country’s potential in all aspects of the social life and fostering its economic development with historic significant achievements. The market economy and especially economic growth have helped improve the people’s life and consolidate the faith of the people and military medical cadres in the Party’s leadership and the goal of national independence and socialism. Economic growth has created better material and spiritual resources for the development of healthcare sector and helped formulate macro policies, upgrade facilities, acquire more pieces of equipment and medicine for examining and treating the people and soldiers, and improve the living conditions of medical cadres including the military medical ones.

To bolster military medical cadres’ qualities, it is vital that they should have political zeal, faith in, love for and dedication to their profession. They should also have medical ethics, kindness for patients, and democratic, disciplined working style. They must be active and creative in approaching new knowledge, applying advanced technologies, using modern equipment for diagnosis and treatment, increasing the quality and effectiveness of their task, and improving their military medical competence. Military medical staff members must have expertise, professionalism, and discipline in their professional operations, capabilities in commanding military medical operations, and skills in international integration, which is necessary for their capacity to be unceasingly enhanced and developed. The basic elements in military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities have been increasingly completed, combined with and impacted on one another; hence, those cadres have been really “both red and expert” while their medical ethics, knowledge and skills have kept improving on the material and spiritual basis provided by the market economy.

However, in addition to advantages, the dark side of the market economy has made complex impacts on military medical cadres, which is hard to deal with. More specifically, the market economy has led to an increasingly wider gap between the poor and the rich amongst social strata and employees, including those working inside and outside the armed forces. The trend towards valuing material, pursuing individual benefits, and oversimplifying professional competence keeps developing rapidly and witnesses complex developments. The signs of enrichment regardless of law and moral standards are growing. Many of ideological, cultural, and social values and a number of traditions of the nation, the revolution, the Military, and the Health Sector are being undermined by the powerful and negative impacts of the market economy.

In that context, basic elements in military medical staff members’ qualities and capabilities are also impacted seriously. The military medical branch operates according to its goal of service and is subsidised by the State. Individual income mainly relies on ranks and positions. Meanwhile, military medical units are usually stationed in the remote, isolated areas where market relationships develop more slowly. Hence, in spite of being able to increase their income, military medical cadres at grass-roots level hospitals have fewer chances and their income is often lower than those who work at central hospitals where the market economy is more developed, medical equipment is better, and the demand for medical examination and treatment is greater. With the development of market economy, that difference is much clearer and more greatly impacts on various groups of people, especially military medical staff members. That leads to a lack of comfort in their task, negative signs of medical ethics and lifestyle, a dearth of enthusiasm and kindness, and indifference to patients amongst a number of military medical cadres. They just concentrate on earning money outside their units. They show hesitations in improving their political knowledge and working in military medical specialities. Their aspirations and ideal are undermined. They lead a pragmatic lifestyle and they do not strictly comply with the military discipline. Things mentioned above are the negative signs which are easily developed among several military medical staff members in the conditions of market economy, especially among those who lack political zeal and self-improvement.

The impacts made by the dark side of the market economy will not make all military medical cadres commit negative practices as the inevitable. However, those impacts will easily lead to negative behaviours, particularly in the relationship between doctors and patients. Without preventive and remedial measures, those negative impacts will develop against the nature, tradition, and ethics of the healthcare sector, damage patients’ affection for physicians and medical institutions, cause doubts about the fairness in medical examination and treatment, and more seriously undermine the people’s faith in the Party, the State, and the Military. Those impacts impose more demanding requirements on each military medical cadre’ improvements in their political qualities, ideology, ethics, and lifestyle.

In response to the impacts by the market economy, it is vital to synchronously and comprehensively adopt measures for enhancing military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities, with a focus on the following.

First, raising the efficiency and effectiveness of the party and political work within military medical units. Due attention should be paid to well carrying out the work of political education and ideological orientation associated with the study and following of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, ethics and lifestyle. Consideration should be given to instilling Uncle Ho’s teachings that “an excellent physician must be like a good mother” into each military medical cadre. Emphasis should be placed on making military medical cadres absolutely loyal to the Homeland, the Party and the people and always ready to undertake and fulfil all assigned tasks. Besides, it is essential to improve military medical cadres’ service quality, medical ethics and observance of law and professional regulations, ensure that they always put patients’ health and life first, raise their awareness of the relationship between economic interests and professional ethics, and help them to transform objective elements into inner motivations, preserve their qualities, successfully fulfil their task, and reduce negative impacts by the market economy on their capabilities and medical morality.

Second, well conducting the personnel work, training, correctly evaluating, and effectively using military medical staff members. The personnel work is of paramount importance to enhancing military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities. We should be acutely aware that medical profession is a special job. Medical human resources must satisfy the professional and moral requirements. Medical cadres must be carefully selected, recruited, trained, used, and treated in a special manner. Therefore, due attention should be paid to complying with the regulations and procedures for the personnel work relevant to the tasks of the Military and the Military Medical Branch. Great value should be attached to raising the quality of preparing and recruiting medical human resources. Emphasis should be placed on ensuring the quantity of military medical cadres, improving their professional competence at grass-roots level, and dealing with the imbalance between hospitals and infirmaries as well as between military medicine and clinical medicine. It is necessary to renew the training of military medical cadres and make them “both red and expert.” It is also important to reform the work of cadre evaluation, use, and rotation and combine the building of military medical cadres with that of party members and organisations within military medical units.

Third, there should be proper policies to promote military medical staff members’ potential and enhance their qualities and capabilities. Preferred treatment policies will provide an incentive for cadres to fulfil their assigned mission. Hence, it is essential to supplement and complete material and mental preferred treatment policies for military medical cadres, particularly those who are working in grass-roots level units, opportunely commend and reward individuals and collectives with achievements in serving their patients and improving their qualities, ethics and lifestyle. To encourage cadres to actively improve themselves, party committees and commands of military medical units should ensure the fair distribution of income within their units and the harmony between individual, collective and social benefits. There should be close regulations on public services and finance within units. Moreover, due attention should be paid to settling negative impacts by the market economy and preserving the fine tradition of the medical sector.

Fourth, building a healthy cultural environment and bringing into play military medical cadres’ dynamism and proactiveness in study and self-improvement. The healthy, democratic and disciplined cultural environment will facilitate the training and development of military medical staff members’ qualities and capabilities. Hence, significance should be attached to conducting the work of legal dissemination and education, building the military standard order and professionalism, strictly maintaining discipline, and creating a favourable condition for each cadre’s self-improvement and development. Besides, it is necessary to further educate and propagate revolutionary military medical cadres’ pride in their job and their medical ethics, strengthen leadership and direction over the training of military medical staff, and combine education by units with self-education.

Fifth, building and consolidating party organisations, promoting the role and responsibility of party committees, commands, and political offices within military medical units. Pure, strong party organisations and their leadership play a decisive role in the development and quality of military medical staff. At present, consideration should be given to making party organisations within military medical offices, units, and hospitals pure, strong, highly combative and capable of playing a vanguard role in missions. It is important to encourage the role of party organisations, party committees and commands in building and raising military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities. Great weight should be attached to sufficiently staffing and improving political offices of military medical units to meet the requirements set by the task of enhancing military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities in the new situation.

The impacts made by the market economy are objective. However, to enable those impacts on military medical staff to turn positive, military medical units and forces should devote efforts to building and improving military medical cadres’ qualities and capabilities comprehensively.

Lt. Gen., Associate Prof., Dr LE THU HA

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