The particularities of domestic politics in Vietnam have led to surprisingly effective pandemic responses from the government and its people.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc all over the world, Vietnam remains one of the few bright spots, alongside some other Asia-Pacific countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and New Zealand.
Lessons from the Past
One astounding fact that has been rarely mentioned by both domestic and foreign outlets while analyzing Vietnam’s strategy for confronting the pandemic is that the Vietnamese government has been without a head of the Health Ministry since November 2019, when then-Minister of Health Dr. Nguyen Thi Kim Tien retired without any designated successor. Since that time, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam – a telecommunication engineer by training — has been tasked with managing the ministry while the minister spot has remained vacant, and probably will be until the pandemic is put under control.
However, the Ministry of Health and its network of centers of disease control and prevention all over the country, despite their patchy leadership and limited resources, have proven to be instrumental in the government’s effort to contain COVID-19. This feat comes from the many lessons Vietnam learned during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and later the swine flu pandemic in 2009.
This article was written by Viet Phuong Nguyen
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