Urbanisation helps disease spread
HA NOI (VNS)— Infectious diseases in Viet Nam have decreased considerably in the past 10 years thanks to the preventive medicine system, yet some newly emerging and re-emerging illnesses still remain complicated public health issues.
Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said this at a conference held yesterday by Viet Nam Public Health Association.
The country did not see any hand-foot-mouth cases before 2005. But since 2011, the disease has broken out in cities and provinces across the country. That year also saw the highest number of patients, with more than 100,000 cases reported.
By 2010, the number of dengue fever patients decreased compared with the 1990s, but it has been rising steadily for the past six years.
"There are seven main reasons that these infectious diseases are emerging and re-emerging," said Hien.
These reasons are: population booms and urban-isation, immigration and poultry trading, agricultural development, climate change, unhygienic food, the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and globalisation.
Meanwhile, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Department of Preventive Medicine Phan Trong Lan said the main reason was that Viet Nam has tropical weather, giving bacteria a comfortable place to develop.
Moreover, residents in different areas had different levels of awareness about disease prevention, he said.
Hien said that the health sector should strengthen the health care system, especially districts' and communes' medical stations, to improve their services and intensify interdisciplinary disease prevention.
The health sector should also reinforce international co-ordination and call for support from international organisations, said Hien.
Lan added that the Ministry of Health has founded a steering committee with the participation of more than 30 health, food safety and environmental experts to control the diseases.
The committee will focus on diseases transmitted via respiratory organs and spread by poultry as 75 per cent of re-emerging diseases originate from birds, such as the flu type A/H5N1 and A/H1N1.
In April 2003, the World Health Organisation recognised Viet Nam as the first country in the world to control SARS successfully.
"This proved our capacity to prevent diseases. Together with the steering committee foundation, controlling the re-emerging infectious diseases is possible," Lan said.
Meanwhile, the country has successfully maintained its achievements in polio elimination since 2000 and innate tetanus since 2005, he said.
The number of patients and fatalities of diarrhoea, whooping-cough, meningitis, malaria and HIV/AIDS were also down sharply. — VNS