A Brighter Smile in Saigon

By: Patrick Gaveau

We sat down with Dr. Philippe and Chau Guettier, two well-known dentists who have run the Starlight Dental Clinic for over 20 years, in order to find out more about dental care in HCMC and Vietnam.

In your opinion, is the Vietnam dental industry currently developed in HCMC?

Philippe: During the last 15 years it has developed a lot. Especially in terms of quality, it has improved much in the past three to four years. At the university level, the education of the dentists is getting better and better. There is much more training done by foreign universities - namely French universities. Now young dentists who graduate receive much better education for their practice.

Is developing the dental industry and pushing dental care a concern for the Ministry of Health?

Philippe: The Ministry has a good control over the quality of the clinic. In France, once you graduate and open your clinic, you will never get any check-ins from the government on a yearly basis to see if everything is taken care of. In Vietnam, each clinic gets a check-in from the Ministry of Health every year. This is good for maintaining the quality of clinics here.

In terms of equipment, are there concerns or issues based on the different levels of clinics? Or is there a general standard?

Philippe: Basically, what the government will control are x-rays, sterilisation, and product lifespan. After, they will not check if the tools or the products you are using to treat the patient are good quality or not. Unfortunately in Vietnam you have many products made in China - machines, or products you put into the patient's mouth. The instruments used to treat and restore a patient’s teeth will not be of the same quality. There is quite a big discrepancy from one clinic to another.

Do the majority of locals value the importance of having healthy teeth?

Philippe: You have a growing middle class. Once you go outside Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, there’s still a big gap. You have to look at the ratio of how many dentists there are for the population. In France, it’s 1 dentist for 1,500 people. In Vietnam, it’s 1 dentist for nearly 10,000 people.

We’ve seen more obesity in children in Vietnam in the past 10 years. Is this also affecting dental care?

Chau: I think the main reason for cavities is how you brush and take care of your teeth. Even if they eat a lot, if they brush their teeth afterwards they will not have problems. Now, people have more education on how to keep their teeth clean.

Philippe: We go to a lot of schools and have a program for this. We teach the children what are cavities, how to brush your teeth, and we give them a toothbrush. But to answer your question, I think we have more cavities than before for the kids. The quality of food (with fast food and soft drinks) has decreased. Even if you have kids in international schools with wealthy families, you’d still be surprised by the number of cavities that can be found.

Will there be an expanding future market for orthodontics?

Philippe: By definition, everybody knows Vietnam is a young country [laughs] with a lot of kids, so sure there is a market for orthodontics. Now, you have parents who want their children to have great teeth for the future, so they bring them in for orthodontics. But you also have a lot of young Vietnamese adults who get orthodontics, because as kids they didn’t have this. As opposed to France, where mostly children get orthodontics, in Vietnam we have many more adults patients.

If you had to give a price difference between the majority of treatments, how much less expensive would it be here than Australia, including the cost of travel and board?

Philippe: Australia would be three to four times as expensive, at least.

Chau: But it depends on the treatment. To give an example, I had a quotation from a patient in Australia for one impacted wisdom tooth removal for $1,200. At our clinic in HCMC the cost is $120.

How Can We Help Fight The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic?

By: Leroy Nguyen

A heartfelt message from Pham Chau Linh, co-founder of the Together Against COVID-19 initiative ...

My husband and I wanted to do something to help Can Gio Quarantine Center, where my husband recently went under quarantine. We began a charitable initiative which we wish to expand to cover all COVID-19 treatment and quarantine centers in and around Ho Chi Minh city. We have found that many of our friends want to join forces with us, both Vietnamese locals and expats currently residing in Vietnam, but many don’t know HOW to help. 

Covid-19Image source: vietnamnews.vn

I put together this simple document in the hopes that all of you can refer to it as a clear guide to give you some ideas of how you can contribute to the global cause. Hopefully together we can help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative is carried out with consultation and immense support from Dr. Nguyen Tran Nam, for which we would like to express our deepest gratitude! 

Core purpose

To donate much needed medical supplies in the fastest and most effective manner so that these items can be put to use immediately within medical and quarantine centers. Our focus is on providing protective equipment / tools / items to medical staff who are at the highest risk level, medical staff that are working directly with COVID-19 patients. 

What are we currently doing?

We are currently focusing on providing protective workwear and eye-protection, with a mission to expand and include other medical supplies at a later point. The key to prioritising what to buy depends on 3 factors:

1. What exactly is short of supply? 

2. Validated quality of products that are certified safe to be used at medical and quarantine centers (not everything does, unfortunately). 

3. Low cost – the lowest cost possible is always sought after.

Covid-19Image source: customsnews.vn

Who do we currently distribute to?

- Can Gio COVID-19 hospital & quarantine center.

- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HCMC CDC) who will then distribute goods out to centers in need, according to priority.

• Should you wish to donate directly to the HCMC CDC – please contact Doctor Thuy Duong - phone 0916052287. Address: 699 Trần Hưng Đạo, Ward 1, District 5, HCMC.

- The Children City Hospital of HCMC – Infectious Diseases Department, specializing in COVID-19 treatment of minor patients. 

• Should you wish to donate directly to the Children City Hospital of HCMC directly – please contact Doctor Nguyen Tran Nam - phone 0939061153. Address: 15 Võ Trần Chí, Tân Kiên, Bình Chánh, HCMC.

Covid-19Image source: vietnaminsider.vn

As the initiative grows, we wish to reach even further than our current reach. Join a great cause and help to support the community on this critical and urgent mission.

What have we achieved so far?

- We have raised over VND 322 million.

- Over 500 sets of protective workwear and 500 pieces of eye protection have been donated to Can Gio Medical & Quarantine center. 

- Over 500 sets of protective workwear and 200 medical masks have been donated to HCMC CDC headquarters in HCMC. 

Covid-19Image source: english.net

For more information regarding the initiative and how you can volunteer and/or contribute, please do not hesitate to contact me!
Pham Chau Linh 
Phone: 0903946193 (phone, whatsapp, zalo, viber, messenger) 
Email: phamchaulinh@gmail.com

Or to make a donation ...
Techcombank HCMC ACCOUNT NUMBER: 19021341109025

Banner Image source: scmp.com

What Health Care Insurance in Ho Chi Minh City Covers COVID-19?

By: Leroy Nguyen

The COVID-19 coronavirus, officially termed a global pandemic, has literally spun the world into lockdown. It is so important to play our part and STAY HOME. Protect ourselves, protect our family and friends, and protect our beautiful community. 

Read our article: MEDICAL ADVICE ON HOW TO PREVENT COVID-19 for some essential information and guidance on how to safeguard ourselves against the COVID-19 virus.

Covid-19Image source: pngtree.com

Just as importantly, we need to remember to ask ourselves ... 

“If I test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, does my current health insurance policy cover all costs?”

Below we’ve listed some health insurance options currently available to foreigners residing in Vietnam, in particular, policies that cover COVID-19 coronavirus treatments. If you’re aware of any other health insurance services that cover COVID-19 please do let us know so that we may update this list and continue to keep our community well informed.



- Eligible to all Vietnamese and foreign residents living, studying, working in Vietnam.

- No age restrictions.

- Payment for inpatient treatment of viral pneumonia of the Corona strain.

- Daily allowance of VND 100,000 per day during treatment.

- Benefit paid In the unfortunate case of death: VND 100 million.

- For more information CLICK HERE.

Covid-19Image source: heartfoundation.org.au


Military Insurance (MIC) has launched CORONA GUARD with the desire to join hands to protect public health.

CORONA GUARD actively extends its application to include infants from 1 day old, to 70 year old adults, and all foreign citizens living and working in Vietnam.

MIC's CORONA GUARD is designed to be flexible with 3 packages of insurance at each participating level so customers can actively choose. For more information CLICK HERE.

Covid-19Image source: vietnambiz.vn

Package 1

- VND 29,000 / 3 months.
- Benefit paid in the unfortunate case of death: VND 50 million.
- Hospitalization (isolation/quarantine): VND 1,500,000 / 30 days (VND 50,000 per day x number of days lying).

Package 2

- VND 59,000 / 3 months.
- Benefit paid in the unfortunate case of death: VND 100 million.
- Hospitalization (isolation/quarantine): VND 4,500,000 / 30 days (VND 150,000 per day x number of days lying).

Package 3

- VND 119,000 / 3 months.
- Benefit paid in the unfortunate case of death: VND 200 million.
- Hospitalization (isolation/quarantine): VND 7,500,000 / 30 days (VND 250,000 per day x number of days lying).


- PLEASE NOTE: This policy is applicable ONLY to existing Prudential Vietnam health insurance policy holders. The program applies to individual customers who are the Policyholder and the Insured of both main and supplementary products of the Insurance Contract issued by Prudential and valid for the duration of the program.

- This is a special program for unfortunate customers who are infected with the 2019-nCoV virus from February 6, 2020 to April 30, 2020

- The program offers cash assistance that corresponds to the severity level based on the number of days a client is on hospital isolation. 

- With the duration of isolation / hospitalization for 3 to 9 days, the support value is VND 10 million / customer.

- With the duration of isolation / hospitalization for 10 days or more, the value of the support cash assistance of VND 20 million / customer. 

- For more information CLICK HERE.

Covid-19Image source: prudential.com.vn


- PLEASE NOTE: This policy is applicable ONLY to existing Bao Viet Life Insurance policy holders.

- Cash support offered to existing Bao Viet Life Insurance holders who are required to be tested / treated for COVID-19 infection.

- For more information CLICK HERE.

Covid-19Image source: baoviet.com.vn

Banner Image source: congly.vn

Cultural Differences? The Birth of Psychology in Saigon

By: Keely Burkey

A young Vietnamese woman is pulled in two directions: on the one side, she’s just received a big promotion at work, and she’s excited about where her career is taking her; on the other, her family constantly reminds her that she has to think seriously about getting married and settling down.

The choice is ultimately up to her, but it often leads to anxiety and depression.

It’s these sorts of scenarios, involving the battle between traditional values and modern opportunities, that lead people to seek Psychotherapist Azrael Jeffrey’s services at the International Center for Cognitive Development (ICCD). “It’s about supporting them in their endeavors, and with what would make them happy, whether it be quitting their job or moving to another country,” he says.

At the moment Jeffrey and his team at ICCD are among the few fully accredited mental health practitioners in Ho Chi Minh City—but that doesn’t mean there’s not a need for them.

Vietnam’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) stated in 2016 that 30 percent of Vietnam’s population suffer from some form of mental illness, primarily depression (25 percent).

According to the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), the rate of diagnosable mental disorders in Vietnam is 15 percent, a noticeable difference.

These wide variants point to a larger problem: an incomplete portrait of mental health issues in Vietnam.

A Shadowed History

Mental health in Vietnam has been compartmentalised. Jacqueline Langton, a psychologist with a private practice in HCMC, notes that, “Degrees and specialisation for doctors in psychiatry have been well supported here in Vietnam. In contrast, psychology is still in its infancy.”

Psychiatry was practised mainly in the form of government-run mental hospitals, which took in patients suffering from severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and delusional disorders (60 percent of patients, according to Ministry of Health statistics), mood disorders (15 percent) and stress-related disorders (15 percent).

psychologyImage source: agarwood.org.vn

Alternatively, the Western concept of help being sought during stressful times or dark life moments was completely foreign.

A stigma began to form against seeking help, although Langton notes that this is an issue in her native Australia as well.

“In Vietnam I see stigmas shifting between generations; in Vietnam a student may openly talk about experiencing depression but struggle with discussing it with their parents, or their parents may struggle sharing that information outside of their immediate relatives,” she says.

A Matter of Perception

This purveying stigma has led many to believe that psychology couldn’t be integrated into Vietnamese society as it is in North America and Europe.

When Azrael Jeffrey founded ICCD two years ago, he noticed that it wasn’t the Vietnamese who had a problem with it—it was the foreigners: “Most people thought it was silly. There was the stereotype that Vietnamese people don’t like psychology. It’s not true. They’re curious about it.”

psychologyImage source: cigna-healthcare.com

Both Jeffrey and Langton noted that the problem of practising psychology in HCMC wasn’t that it was frowned upon, but rather that there was no system of reference for it, leading to difficulties when it came to paperwork.

Jeffrey, for example, remembers hiring a speech pathologist—the first in the country. “Getting a work permit was hard. There was no “speech pathologist” career they could enter. It didn’t exist in Vietnam yet.”

Molding Young Minds

Right now the vast majority of formally registered psychologists in Vietnam are expatriates, but this is likely to change in the coming years.

Apart from individual sessions, Azrael Jeffrey also counsels college students, and he’s seeing more and more interest in the field of psychology.

psychologyImage source: backend.bazaarvietnam.vn

Rather than study in Vietnam, where counselling programs are still quite limited, Jeffrey encourages interested students to pursue their education overseas.

“When they come back in five or six years, Vietnamese psychologists will probably take the forefront here,” he predicts.

For now, it’s all about changing cultural perceptions, and this might be easier than previously supposed.

Jacqueline Langton has noticed a definite shift in the perception of psychology in her seven years in Vietnam, as has Jeffrey.

“I’ve seen tremendous change,” he says.

“When I first came here and said I was a psychologist, it would clear the room. Now I say it and people come up to me and start asking questions.”

Banner image source: inc.com

Staying Healthy When Dining Out

By: Nat Paolone

With such a variety of enticing food options coercing our palates into gluttony, eating healthy outside your home proves quite challenging.

Looking at the menu, densely packed with highly caloric, over-sized portions (which we have become accustomed to in our modern world) we succumb and gorge. Busy lifestyles and poor choices while eating out often lead to further weight gain. Let’s have a look at how we can better deal with this and make better choices at the restaurant.

Societal Pressure

Socio-economics definitely influence our food choices both in selecting a restaurant/cafe and what we decide to order. We like to “fit in,” and eat what our friends munch on.

We’ve all heard too often from friends and family, “Oh come on, just eat it! You only live once, it won’t kill you…” Seemingly when you choose to eat healthy, you may become the outcast among your friends. This compounds matters as striving for acceptance is human nature.

Why all the talk of sociological factors when we just want healthy eating tips? Because the challenge is largely psychological and habitual. Most of it is really common sense but unfortunately eating substandard food has simply become socially accepted.

Right then, let’s get into making some better nutritional choices.

Photo by Pixabay

Local Food Suggestions

Vietnamese grilled fish and meats are ideal dishes, as well as soups and hot pots. Many Japanese and Korean restaurants around Saigon have solid, healthy choices in contrast to the majority of most Western menus offered throughout the city.

Next time you enjoy your favourite pho or bun bo, ask for less noodles in order to maximise your healthy diet. In regards to MSG, well, you know what it is, and we must accept that it’s nearly unavoidable when eating out in HCMC. Goi cuon (chicken spring roll), goi xoai (mango salad) and ca nuong la chuoi (grilled fish with banana leaf) are a few healthy Vietnamese options.

Photo by Pixabay

Indian food doesn’t have to be heavy. Go for the tandoor chicken breast or lamb as long as you make sure to request it with no butter or cream. Choosing brown rice over naan is also another way to manoeuvre around the fattening dishes lingering at your table. When eating Italian, skip the primi and go straight for secondi.

Sugar and excess carbs are fundamentally problematic. Lower these and increase the veggies and proteins. For all the lovely vegetarians, choose protein rich beans and legumes. This is a challenge in Vietnam as most vegetarian restaurants do not include beans on the menu. Sure tofu is good, but this protein packed veggie has a long history of nutritional controversy.

Portion size is paramount. Share a pizza instead of having a whole one, as so many of us are carb junkies consuming these saccharides voraciously, reducing portions is the goal.

How Unhealthy is Alcohol?

Alcohol! The ultimate socially accepted evil. What? Nothing wrong with a few glasses of wine paired with your meal you say? Well, not exactly. Regarding weight gain, alcohol is more than a double whammy. This potion is broken down into acetate, which your body will use first for energy before anything else you eat or drink. Alcohol is metabolised, fat oxidation stops, weight gain may occur and slowed metabolism may result.

Photo by Stephen Bentsen

An average glass of wine has 150 calories, and beer has about the same. People who drink alcohol with a meal often eat up to 30% more food, and considering the culture of pairing food and drink in HCMC, this may cause a problem for many.

Juices and Sodas

Photo by Lavanya Kumara Krishnan

Fruit juices are commonly thought to be a healthier choice over soda. Studies show that the effects on our bodies are virtually the same. According to a recent publication in the Nutrition journal, fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per litre, slightly less than the average of 50 grams per litre for sodas.

"The human body isn't designed to process [fructose] at such high levels. Fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat, which increases risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” says Michael Goran, Director of Childhood Obesity Center in Southern California.

Essentially sodas and fruit juices should be avoided altogether. Eat fresh fruit instead, which includes fibre, slowing down absorption of sugars and allowing the normal metabolism of fructose. As an alternative, drink lots of local fruit smoothies (like avocado) but without condensed milk or sugar. Try an avocado smoothie for healthy fats.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” - Mark Twain

Hoan My Sai Gon Hospital: Treatment with Respect

By: City Pass Guide

Hoan My Sai Gon Hospital was started in 1999 as the first private hospital in HCMC, and has since grown to become one of the most significant leaders in privatised healthcare.

Hoan My is a one-stop-shop hospital, due to the fact that they have highly qualified specialists in nearly every field, a vast and modernised range of imported medical equipment, and the staffing power to take care of every individual need of each patient.

VIP Package

Hoan My has just recently launched their premiere VIP medical facility on the 11th and 12th floors of their hospital in Phu Nhuan. Encapsulating the concept of a “Hotel Hospital”, this spotless, luxury healthcare unit adheres to international standards while providing ethical and cutting edge treatment for each patient. From the waiting room to the inpatient and outpatient areas, visitors are able to enjoy the comfort of a high-end hotel atmosphere. The lobby has carpeted floors, relaxing leather sofas and HD televisions to keep you occupied as your loved one receives meticulous, expert treatment. The inpatient and outpatient rooms also contain HDTVs, top of the line furnishings, and an ambiance that leaves you feeling calm. In case of immediate assistance, each room is equipped with an electronic call system for your convenience.

Unlike most hospitals, where you are relocated to different floors and sometimes even other hospitals for different procedures, the VIP wing is all-inclusive. You will not need to be transferred anywhere and any kind of treatment needed can be delivered on the same floor, saving you the hassle and headache of having to move around.

Patients also have the option to set up their appointments online and select the specialist of their choice; scrolling through the online profiles of each doctor gives patients the ability to overview their work experience and credentials. All doctors in the VIP area can speak English and visitors can feel comfort knowing there will not be a communication barrier.

Training and Staff

There are approximately 120 top doctors (many of whom are internationally trained) and 300 nurses currently employed at Hoan My Sai Gon. Doctors must have at least five years of working experience before being considered for employment and all specialists must have a PhD in their field, practical training and great competance in accordance with their degree. Nurses are also required to have a nursing degree or a certificate from nursing school, as well as undergo heavy-handed development courses in international patient Safety Goals.

Medical Technology

Having proper up-to-date medical technology is the key to providing international quality services, and this is one of the biggest advantages of having treatment at Hoan My Sai Gon. All their medical equipment is 100% imported and no more than four years old. Hoan My Sai Gon also has extensive cardiac and bypass equipment as this department undertakes a large number of patients with heart-related issues. An expert biomedical technology team is brought in to routinely check all equipment each month to ensure its proper function.

Patient Care

Quality patient care is the primary mission of Hoan My Sai Gon. For every one patient there are three staff members to assist each person in need. On average, patients will wait five minutes before they are initially seen by a professional. In lieu of avoiding overcrowding, doctors and nurses arrive before opening hours in order to assist people already waiting. They have also furnished their space with an above average volume of beds in order to keep patients comfortable as they await further treatment.

Quality Control

In order to attain the status of a premiere hospital, CEO Dr. Tram Em has implemented strict and comprehensive protocols that all employees must follow. Each week clinical audits are made; if standards are not met retraining will occur. Patient identification is another standardised process that inherently requires double and triple checking of personal health profiles of each visitor to avoid problems with allergies, bad medications or misdiagnosis. As a result of intuitive strategic management, Hoan My Sai Gon is able to provide complete support to every patient that visits their hospital, and the results clearly speak for themselves.

Contact information:

Website: www.hoanmy.com/saigon

Email: contactus.saigon@hoanmy.com

Hotline: +84 28 3995 9860

Phone booking: +84 28 3990 3995

Address: 60-60A Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan District