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Mar 24, 2021 / 17:48

Vietnam makes great strides in combatting tuberculosis: WHO expert

The Ministry of Health has been taking practical measures to reduce fatalities and prevent tuberculosis (TB) in the community to end the disease by 2030.

Vietnam has made great strides in combatting TB but it needs to step up its efforts to tackle drug-resistant TB, Dr. Kidong Park, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s chief representative to Vietnam, has said.

Making a speech at the meeting held in Hanoi on March 23 night to respond the World Tuberculosis Day, which falls on March 24, Park said that WHO’s survey shows Vietnam is in the world’s top 30 countries with highest burden of TB, ranking 11th in the number of TB patients.

 Dr. Kidong Park, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s chief representative to Vietnam speaks at the meeting. Photo: MoH

He said Vietnam has also mastered the techniques of TB detection, diagnosis and treatment with good results, along with building a strong network system from central to local levels.

"It’s an indication that Vietnam is on the right track, which would also help the country continue to be a model for other nations with high TB problems," Dr. KiDong Park said.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said the decline of TB infection in Vietnam has been faster in recent years, especially after the Prime Minister promoted the National Strategy for TB Prevention and Control by 2020.

“However, Vietnam is still a country with a high TB burden,” Son noted.

Son cited official data that every year the nation records some 176,000 new cases and around 3,000 deaths, which also causes a great burden on the health system since TB treatment is free, and on the economy as the labor productivity of recovering patients is low.

 A doctor examines people coming for tuberculosis check at a medical center in Vietnam. Photo: Hai Quan

“It is estimated that Vietnam still confirms 100,000 newly detected TB cases each year, 70% of people with TB are at working age. Therefore, TB is really an issue affecting the economy of each family in particular and the country in general,” the deputy minister said.

According to Nguyen Viet Nhung, director of the National Lung Hospital, Vietnam’s health sector is adopting an active approach, consisting of seeking to early identify cases of TB among high-risk groups instead of waiting for sick people to show up at hospitals.

"In the past, the health sector in Vietnam treated people who already developed TB symptoms, and that was not enough," Nhung said.

It is necessary to proactively find people infected with the bacteria before they develop the disease, Nhung stressed, adding that although TB is an infectious disease, it is curable thanks to the advanced medical technologies.

Besides, the health sector has been adopting the so-called "Double X" strategy for TB identification with the goal of ending the disease by 2030. Double X diagnoses TB by using chest X-rays and GeneXpert, a diagnostic method that detects the TB bacteria.

"Double X is a tool to detect the source of infection, allowing early location of the outbreak and ending it as soon as possible," Nhung said.