Webinar: “Citizens’ Opinions of and Experiences with Government Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic in Viet Nam: Findings from 2nd Round Phone-Based Survey”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been causing more severe impact in 2021 than in 2020. Citizens showed great concern about their personal health (68% of the respondents) and their children’s education (76%). COVID-19 has had created negative impact on employment and income, with 77% of respondents reported income reduction, especially for the poor, ethnic minorities, unskilled, non-agricultural self-employed laborers, those work in the service sector and those living in longer lockdown periods.

These are among the key findings of the sociological survey: “Citizens’ Opinions of and Experiences with Government Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic in Viet Nam: Findings from 2nd Round Phone-Based Survey, 2021”. The survey was conducted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Mekong Development Research Institute (MDRI), with the support and partnership from the Australian Government’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Citizens’ assessment of government response showed high but declining positive assessment of government performance in handling the pandemic from 2020, with 84% of the respondents rating the responses from the Central Government as good or very good (compared to 97% in 2020), 89% rating the response from their provincial governments’ responses as good or very good (94% in 2020). Citizens showed strong support for strict containment measures; less support for closing open markets and schools.

On the accessibility and effectiveness of the Government’s 26 trillion VND cash aid package, the survey showed that the proportion of people receiving the aid package was low. The poorer had less access than the wealthier. Information about the aid package not well provided for more disadvantageous people. Ethnic minorities, rural and poor people were less likely to know about the package than others. For those who have received the cash aid, delivery was regarded as timely and as informed, but administrative procedures to get access to the cash aid package was not simple.

In the meantime, electronic public administrative services not yet utilized during the 4th wave. Many still had to submit COVID-19 test results to be admitted to healthcare facilities. One of the key issues that the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index or (PAPI) has pointed out over the past decade has been the suboptimal performance of public hospitals at the district level which are now an important element in the response to the public health crisis.

The survey also reflects citizens’ preference and expectation. Despite significant economic impacts, most respondents clearly prioritized health over economy. As many as 83% of the respondents agreed that “The government’s highest priority should be saving as many lives as possible, even if it means the economy will sustain more damage and recover slowly”.