Vietnam faces challenges in tackling tuberculosis

For years, the health sector in Ho Chi Minh City has built a network to diagnose tuberculosis and provided the medical service in districts as well as applied advanced treatment techniques for the target of ending the disease by 2030.

Vietnam faces challenges in tackling tuberculosis

However, there have been some hiccups along the way.

According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis ranks the ninth cause of deaths in the world. The Southeast Asian country has the burden of tuberculosis; in 2017, the country had 126,000 tuberculosis infections and over 13,000 people died of the disease.

Vietnam was ranked 12th among the tuberculosis drug-resistance high-burden countries, with a prevalence of smear-positive tuberculosis of 89 per 100 000 population.

HCMC is one of localities with high tuberculosis infection cases with annual fresh cases making for 15 percent of the whole country’s total cases. Twenty percent of them are immigrants. The city is also the place with high number of multi-drug resistance tuberculosis cases.

Director of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital cum head of the anti-tuberculosis program Dr. Nguyen Huu Lan said that project “For a Vietnam without tuberculosis case” is being piloted in the city to enhance capacity of discovering tuberculosis infected people in the community

The project comprises of screening those who contact with tuberculosis patients and testing those who are at high risk of contracting the disease by advanced equipment to help save time. However, Dr. Lan said that resources for research and prevention task is little. Many private establishments made half-hearted participation in the program; plus there has been personnel shortage because of lack of funding.

Dr. Lan pointed out that just 377 non-public clinics join the program in the public-private-partnership format. Notwithstanding, merely one private clinic provide treatment and transfer samples for testing while others just send tuberculosis to public infirmaries for further treatment.

Meanwhile, averagely 25,000 tuberculosis patients are discovered in public and private medical facilities annually making up 16 – 19 percent of total fresh cases yearly.

According to the National Anti-Tuberculosis program, though more tuberculosis are discovered, the system has neglected tuberculosis senior people.

Therefore, the campaign “ Actively detect and manage tuberculosis people” in HCMC set treatment target to help end the disease including over 60 percent people receiving an X-ray and over 90 percent people undergoing Xpert testing. Moreover, the target aims to cure more than 90 percent patients.

Districts 12, Go Vap and Binh Chanh health sector often leave out tuberculosis in carrying out the program “ Proper care of tuberculosis patients” launched by the municipal Public Health Association and Pham Ngoc Thach hospital under the sponsor of FIT.

Because tuberculosis patients undergo long treatment, the Public Health Association has called for support and its appeal receive contribution from international organizations such as StopTB, IRD which provide funding and new techniques to diagnose fresh infection cases to manage.

According to Chairman of the Public Health Association Dr. Le Truong Giang, the World Health Organization has verified that screening, diagnosis, and treatment are the most important task in ending the disease.

To strengthen screening effectiveness, the Public Health Association and the ZTV project management board in co-ordination with people’s committees in districts launched a campaign “ Take initiative in detecting tuberculosis patients and treating them” from now to September, 2019 in districts 12, Go Vap and Binh Chanh.

Mr. Giang said that with the progress in the medicine, tuberculosis is not incurable disease any longer yet it is still a problem in the world. Ending the disease requires the efforts of all people. People’s awareness of the disease should be raise to curb discrimination against tuberculosis patients.