HA NOI — HIV co-infections and the growth of drug-resistant strains are the greatest challenges to tuberculosis prevention in Viet Nam, says the director of the National TB Prevention Programme, Dinh Ngoc Sy.
|A TB patient receives medical treatment at HCM City-based Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital. Viet Nam is currently ranked 14th out of 27 countries worldwide with the heaviest burden of TB. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
Viet Nam had around 5,000 new TB cases and HIV co-infections annually, with 5-6,000 cases of multiple drug-resistant cases, Sy said at a press conference yesterday to launch TB Prevention Action Month and other activities ahead of World TB Day on March 24.
Viet Nam is currently ranked 14th out of 27 countries worldwide with the heaviest burden of TB, with 200,000 new cases and nearly 30,000 fatalities yearly.
"A shortage of qualified medical staff, a weak legal framework, and the lack of effective co-operation between State and private medical sectors are urgent challenges for the health sector in preventing TB," said Sy.
The Ministry of Health reports that ratio of doctors-per-100,000 people working in TB prevention is 1.58. The shortage of human resources has compounded the high risk of disease infection, low income and the stigma and discrimination from society, Sy said.
Nearly half of the staff working in TB prevention at the district level were new staff without specific training in this field, he added.
Many TB patients have self-treated and self-medicated, increasing the drug-resistancy of TB in Viet Nam, he noted. Prevention efforts faced even more difficulties with the disease more prevalent in mountainous and remote areas, and among the poor, prison inmates and HIV carriers.
Sy said his programme has targeted to eliminate the disease by 2030, with a focus on early detection and high rates of treatment. A greater political commitment from the Government and local authorities was needed, with greater financial resources and human resources training. TB prevention policies for mountainous and remote areas would also help combat the disease.
With the theme For aViet Nam Without TB, the month aims increase community awareness of TB prevention and to strengthen political and financial support from the Government. — VNS