Nov 25, 2020 / 22:36

JICA intensifies assistance to Vietnam in fight against Covid-19

JICA has extended its support to Vietnam's Covid-19 battle since June.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has decided to provide testing equipment worth JPY60 million (US$574,698) to help Vietnam improve its testing capacity in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

 PCR machine handed over to NHTD. Photo: JICA

The assistance comprised of an automated PCR machine was handed over on Wednesday to the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases (NHTD), the leading hospital responsible for the infectious disease diagnosis and treatment in northern Vietnam.

This assistance package for NHTD is expected to further strengthen the project’s HIV testing capacity and the hospital’s PCR testing capacity in dealing with Covid-19.

In combating with Covid-19, NHTD is responsible for the front-line treatment of Covid-19 patients, including critical cases, and also in charge of the isolation and PCR tests to the suspected and confirmed cases.

In March-April 2020, when the epidemic spread drastically, 200-300 PCR tests were conducted per day by the NHTD. However, the hospital’s current real-time PCR equipment is still manually performed in many steps, costing lots of time and labor for the examination and putting burden on the hospital.

This support is expected to speed up PCR tests and reduce the burden on NHTD.

 Ms. IWAMA Nozomi, Senior Representative of JICA Vietnam Office (3rd left) presented automated PCR system Cobas 6800 to Dr. Pham Ngoc Thach, Director of NHTD (3rd right) at the presence of representatives of Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and Embassy of Japan to Vietnam. Photo: JICA

Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has funded approximately US$19 million, not to mention technical support.

Japan has agreed to provide JPY2 billion (US$18.82 million) in non-refundable aid to support Vietnam in the Covid-19 battle. The aid would be disbursed in 18 months beginning from August.

According to Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Yamada Takio, the government of Japan since the start of the pandemic has financed about US$19 million while JICA has provided technical support, test kits, personal protection equipment, face masks, shields, among others, worth US$1.6 million to Vietnam.

In June and July, JICA supplied extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines, real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit, and medical equipment to Cho Ray Hospital, a major hospital in Ho Chi Minh City that is tasked with treating Covid-19 patients and functions as a training center for 21 lower-level hospitals in the South of Vietnam.

At a workshop held in Hanoi on October 15, JICA Chief Representative in Vietnam Shimizu Akira highlighted Vietnam’s positive performance in containing the pandemic and boosting economic recovery.

Mr. Akira said it would be much harder for Vietnam to realize its economic targets, if the country has to deal with hundreds of new Covid-19 cases every day just like what is happening in Japan.