|WHO said that TB was one of the top causes of death in Viet Nam, and only 27 per cent of the money needed for effective TB control was funded. — Photo benhlao.net
HCM CITY (VNS) — Most diagnoses of tuberculosis in Viet Nam are based only on sputum tests, which can lead to delayed treatment if the results are negative, according to findings from the Friends for International Tuberculosis Relief, a German NGO.
The NGO is working with the HCM City Public Health Association on a TB care and control project in HCM City's Go Vap District.
Vo Nguyen Quang Luan, the founder of the NGO, said patients were asked to take x-rays and undergo 10 days of antibiotic treatment if sputum tests were negative.
Luan spoke at a meeting on TB diagnosis that ended yesterday in HCM City.
Patients were told to return to hospital for more tests if the results were ambiguous or the treatment was ineffective, he added.
"Advanced diagnostics would greatly benefit patients and the community, and are needed as urgently as ever," said Luan.
Dang Minh Sang of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital said the detection of TB in Viet Nam was based on sputum tests only.
The modern molecular test GeneXpert, which can detect the presence of TB bacteria as well as resistance to the drug Rifampicin, is used in only a few health facilities in Ha Noi, HCM City and several other provinces.
Sang said it was vital to introduce new diagnostic tools to help Viet Nam reach the targets in the national TB prevention strategy by 2020.
Dr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital said that TB prevention and treatment programmes were mostly in big cities and towns in Viet Nam.
However, a high number of TB patients lived in rural areas, and a trip to clinics was often a financial burden they could not bear, she said.
One way to make the TB prevention programme more effective was to bring the diagnostic tool as close as possible to the patients, she added.
She suggested that a "novel molecular assay" that is more sensitive than smear microscopy should be used in health clinics in wards and communes in order to detect and treat TB patients early.
According to WHO data from 2013, 209 people out of 100,000 in the country have the disease, which includes HIV+TB co-infected patients.
WHO said that TB was one of the top causes of death in Viet Nam, and only 27 per cent of the money needed for effective TB control was funded.
Martina Casenghi, tuberculosis diagnostics advisor for Doctors without Borders' Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, said such tools could reduce diagnostic delays and improve access to drug susceptibility testing.
Timely and accurate diagnoses ensures that patients can begin effective therapy, she said.
According to a 2014 global TB report, nine million new cases occurred last year, an increase of 8.6 million in 2012. Of the cases, 1.5 million people died, she said
Globally, 3.5 per cent of new and 20.5 per cent of previously treated TB cases had multidrug-resistant TB, according to the report.
Serious multidrug-resistant TB epidemics occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia last year, with 35 per cent of them new cases and 75 per cent previously treated.
Treatment success rates for multidrug-resistant TB remain low, and the success rate stands at only 48 per cent worldwide. — VNS