|Doctors in Binh Chanh District Hospital give medical treatment to pediatric patients. Since the beginning of the year, the hospital has treated 106 patients with dengue fever, an increase of 28 cases compared to the same period last year. — Photo binhchanh.hochiminhcity.gov.vn
by Gia Loc
HCM CITY (VNS) — Within seven days of being treated at Binh Chanh District Hospital's paediatrics ward, a 13-year boy diagnosed with dengue fever was able to return home, fully recovered, a testament to the hospital's improved capacity to treat the disease.
Dr To Thi Kim Phung, the ward's head, said the boy's weight of 70s kilos made the case more difficult to treat. The boy was admitted with high fever and pain on the right side of the rib due to an extraordinarily large liver.
Phung and her colleagues closely monitored the boy because of the possibility of shock.
Truong Thanh Hau, the boy's father, said that doctors and nurses had been thorough and professional, and had given clear guidance on nutrition for recovery.
Other patients treated at the Binh Chanh District Hospital have also expressed trust in the doctors and their skills.
Since the beginning of the year, the hospital has treated 106 patients with dengue fever, an increase of 28 cases compared to the same period last year.
As of early November, dengue fever this year had increased by 101 per cent compared to last year in the city. The city has had 14,794 patients with dengue fever since the beginning of this year, according to the Preventive Health Centre.
The districts of Binh Chanh, Binh Thanh, Can Gio, 10 and 11 saw an increase in the number of hospitalised patients.
Dr Le Thi Huyen Chau, head of Binh Chanh District Hospital's general planning division, said: "With 20 years of experience in dengue fever treatment and updated knowledge on diagnosis and treatment, our doctors can treat patients who have been diagnosed with severe dengue fever, including those with shock syndrome."
The hospital's doctors have received technical assistance from the City Hospital for Tropical Diseases and two paediatrics hospitals.
Of 106 cases treated at the hospital this year, five cases were treated for shock syndrome, a dangerous complication of dengue infection associated with high mortality, Chau said.
However, the hospital is not able to treat cases with severe complications of liver and kidney failure, she said.
These cases are transferred to higher level hospitals such as the city Hospital for Tropical Diseases or the two paediatrics hospitals.
Only seven cases have been transferred to these hospitals this year, while13 were transferred last year, she said.
While Binh Chanh can treat dengue fever with shock syndrome, the District 8 Hospital must transfer those patients to city-level hospitals, according to Dr Nguyen Van Thinh, deputy head of District 8 Hospital.
Dr Tang Chi Thuong, deputy head of the city's Department of Health, said that technical assistance between city- and grassroots-level hospitals was being strengthened to help improve treatment quality.
Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, head of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said that dengue-fever treatment capacity at the city's district and provincial hospitals in the southern and south-central region had improved, thanks to training courses provided by the hospitals and the city's two paediatric hospitals.
Low level of trust
However, many patients with dengue fever who live near grassroots-level hospitals are still reluctant to visit these hospitals because of a lack of trust in their capacity.
For instance, at District 8 Hospital, only 48 patients with dengue fever were treated in the first 10 months of the year.
Although they did not have severe complications, the patients with dengue fever decided to seek care at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases or the two paediatrics hospitals instead of their district hospitals.
The Hospital for Tropical Diseases and the two paediatrics hospitals are charged with focusing and treating severe cases, according to the Ministry of Health's requirements.
The city's Department of Health said this year the Hospital for Tropical Diseases had admitted 6,850 dengue-fever patients; the Paediatrics Hospital No. 1, 2,396; and the Paediatrics Hospital No.2 3,635.
Of these, 40-50 per cent were residents from other city districts.
Chau said the hospital had to put more beds in the dengue fever infectious disease ward because of the increased number of patients.
On November 12, 247 patients with dengue fever were being treated at hospitals in the city. Of these, 203 were residents of HCM City, and the remaining were from neighbouring provinces.
Most of them did not have severe infections, Dr Nguyen Thanh Truong, head of the infectious disease ward at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said.
"Although the cost of treatment at the hospital is higher than at the grassroots-level, patients still go to the city-level hospitals instead", he said.
According to the ministry's guidelines for treatment of the disease, the treatment protocol at both city- and grassroots-level hospitals is the same.
"In the case of patients who develop severe complications, the cause is not due to low capacity of doctors. Dengue fever can progress to the severe phrase suddenly without prevention," Truong said.
The mother of a 14-year-old boy said she took her son to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in District 5 because of its reputation.
"I felt confident about bringing my son to the hospital for treatment. The other hospitals like District 10 Hospital do not specialise in dengue fever treatment," she said.
Similarly, a 31-year-old man from Thu Duc District said that he visited a district private clinic for an exam, which advised him to go to a city-level hospital because "its doctors are better".
"I don't know if the doctors of Thu Duc District Hospital can treat the disease," he said.
To remedy the problem, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien has told grassroots-level hospitals to publicise their capacity and achievements to residents in their localities, so that city-level hospitals would not be overburdened.
"Overloading at hospitals increases the rate of infections and fatalities. It also leads to lower quality of treatment," Tien said. — VNS