HA NOI (VNS)— Increasing the vaccination rate against measles was the only way to eliminate the disease, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long told a press conference yesterday.
A total of 108 kids have died from the disease or its complications so far this year.
Long said the disease had been reported in 61 of 63 provinces and cities nation-wide.
"The ministry has asked provinces and cities to strengthen examination and treatment and create vaccination campaigns in all localities - especially areas that had reported outbreaks," said Long.
"The leaders of localities, ministries and sectors should be involved in the campaign to ensure that at least 95 per cent of children aged from nine months to 14 years are vaccinated."
Health ministry statistics show that 3,256 patients have so far been confirmed positive out of a total of 8,779 suspected cases.
The director of the health ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, Tran Dac Phu, said that the number of cases was lower than in 2009-10. However, there had been more fatalities, particularly among young babies who had not been vaccinated. Overcrowding at hospitals had also led to much cross infection.
"Measures are focused on reducing overload on central hospitals in Ha Noi, especially the National Paediatrics Hospital and in improving treatment methods," said Phu.
Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiolog, said the increase in cases this year might be due to the low vaccination rates in past years.
He said statistics showed that only 80 per cent of children had the second vaccination shot compared to the rate of 96 per cent in 2011-12 (The first shot is at nine months and second at 18 months.)
In Ha Noi, satellite hospitals will be used for receiving and treating measles patients to reduce overload at central hospitals.
The health ministry has also provided 42 respiratory machines to hospitals using for measles treatment in Ha Noi.
In an urgent document released yesterday, the health ministry called on provinces and cities to tighten surveillance for measles.
The ministry asked hospitals to set aside areas for measles examinations and treatment - and to mark them with warning signs.
The ministry has also set up five inspection teams to scrutinise measles treatment and prevention in Ha Noi and HCM City. The teams aim to minimise deaths from the disease. — VNS