HCM CITY — The minister of health and pediatricians nationwide yesterday (April 5) gathered to discuss measures to reduce fatalities caused by hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD), which had killed 16 people nationwide this year.
"Training courses on surveillance, prevention and control of HFMD for doctors as well as nurses at pediatric health care facilities is a must to restrain the number of deaths due to HFMD," said Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.
"Five training units have been set up for all doctors and nurses at pediatric health care facilities nationwide, with a focus on localities with high infection cases and deaths.
"Proper implementation of formal guidelines for surveillance, prevention and treatment of the disease, which were issued by the ministry last year, will help to treat the disease effectively," Tien said.
The ministry has worked with provincial people's committees to provide funding for local health care facilities so they can buy necessary equipment as well as medicines for treatment.
By the end of March, 21,295 cases of HFMD were reported nationwide, including 16 deaths, according to statistics released by the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department.
The number of cases rose by 9.1 per cent against the same period last year while the number of fatalities were three times higher than last year's figures.
All deaths were caused by enterovirus 71 (EV71), with children under three years old accounting for 87.5 per cent and the remaining 12.5 per cent children between three to five years old.
The southern region reported the highest number of infection cases (9,337) and fatalities (13).
Tran Thanh Duong, deputy head of the Preventive Medicine Department, said the number of infections would likely increase greatly in the next few months.
The disease is caused by a group of viruses known as enterovirus (EV), including EV71 which can cause severe complications leading to death.
As there is no vaccine or specific treatment for enterovirus infections, good hygiene practices should be developed to prevent the spread of the disease. — VNS