MEKONG DELTA — Poor public awareness about prevention of hand-foot-mouth (HFM) disease as well as lack of basic equipment and inappropriate medical care have led to an outbreak of the disease in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
|A child suffering from hand-foot-mouth disease is treated in southern Bac Lieu Province. The disease has hit the region with 129 cases, two of them fatal. — VNA/VNS Photo Huynh Su
Can Tho Children's Hospital, the only children's hospital in the Mekong Delta, has been overloaded with hundreds of HFM-infected patients over the last few days. Two to three children have had to share a bed.
During the first three months of the year, the hospital received nearly 4,500 children with the disease, three times higher than that of the same period last year.
Half of the patients were from other provinces in the Mekong Delta. More than 1,000 people were hospitalised for treatment. Two of them died.
Le Hoang Son, director of the hospital, said 20 standby beds had been set up in anticipation of a likely increase until the end of June.
Children contracting HFM in the earliest stages had been treated at home to ease the overload at the hospital.
In many cases, HFM-infected children have been wrongly diagnosed as having pneumonia, dengue fever or meningitis by primary-care physicians. When they were later transferred to the hospital, the patients had already reached an advanced stage of the illness.
Most hospitals in the provinces of Mekong Delta do not have proper equipment, including respirators, drop counters, syringe pumps and blood purification machines.
Vo Huy Danh, director of An Giang Province's Preventive Medicine Centre, said that it had asked the provincial People's Committee to provide VND10 billion (US$475,000) to purchase necessary equipment as well as chemicals for the prevention and treatment of the disease.
This would reduce the number of fatalities as well as the number of patients transferred to hospitals in Can Tho and HCM City, Danh said.
The province has reported five deaths caused by HFM disease, the country's highest fatality rate. More than 700 children have contracted the disease, according to the province's Preventive Medicine Centre.
More than 1,000 cases, including two fatalities, have been recorded in Dong Thap Province this year. Ca Mau and Tien Giang provinces have each reported around 500 cases. — VNS