Background: The incidence of breast cancer has increased consistently in Vietnam over the past two decades. Data from 2012 indicates an increase from an age-standardized rate of 16.2 per 100,000 in 2002, to 23.0 per 100,000 in 2012. Despite this, and consistent studies indicating late diagnosis, there has been a lack of empirical studies on what breast cancer services exist and how they function across different levels of the Vietnamese health system. Aim: Our project sought to examine the accessibility, affordability, and appropriateness of breast cancer services in Vietnam with the objective of making recommendations to strengthen service delivery. Methods: The project used a mixed-methods approach, collecting data through self-administered questionnaires (n=69) and in-depth interviews (n=23) with health professionals working at facilities across all four levels of the Vietnamese health system (national, provincial, district, & commune). We completed in-depth interviews with women (n=12) diagnosed with breast cancer, focusing on their experiences of accessing and using services. Our study was located across three provinces, representing the northern, central, and southern regions of the country. Results: Our results show that screening activities for breast cancer in the community are not systematically organized or provided. There are no stand-alone screening campaigns for breast cancer and facility-based opportunistic screening is limited. There is scope for strengthening the primary and secondary levels of the Vietnamese health system to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer. Increased autonomy and support for commune-level health stations to conduct screening activities, the systematic incorporation of opportunistic screening, and the extension of breast cancer-specific training for commune and district level health care staff are potential areas for strengthening. Conclusion: Our study suggests that there should be concerted efforts to implement the Ministry of Health's strategic objectives to decentralise and strengthen commune and district levels of the health system in relation to detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. No studies have been conducted that pilot interventions to provide systematic and comprehensive breast cancer services at the lower levels of the health system. Specific attention should be given to increasing autonomy and support for commune level health stations to conduct screening activities; for the systematic incorporation of opportunistic screening; and the extension of breast cancer-specific training for commune and district level health care staff.
|Publication status||Published - 28 Sep 2018|
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Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of PhilosophyFile