New habits prevent outbreaks

Update: June, 04/2014 - 09:02
General Department of Preventive Medicine said that measles cases had hit a peak in February but had fallen in the last few weeks.— Photo vietnao

by Gia Loc

HCM CITY (VNS) — The number of measles and dengue fever cases has subsided as a result of local citizens' increased awareness of the need for vaccinations and preventive hygienic measures.

General Department of Preventive Medicine said that measles cases had hit a peak in February but had fallen in the last few weeks.

As of May 29, at least 96.3 per cent of people had received the necessary two measles shots, compared to 57.5 per cent as of April 19.

Binh Phuoc Province, where only 8.21 per cent of children had received shots as of April 19, was included on the department's list of provinces that had achieved a 95 per cent rate or above as of May 29.

Since the beginning of the year, the country has recorded 4,950 incidences of measles. Of those, 87 per cent did not get measles vaccinations.

Many parents thought that getting measles was not life-threatening, so they were not especially concerned about taking their children to get vaccinations.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh, head of the HCM City Paediatric Hospital No. 1's neurology and infectious disease ward, said they began paying more attention to preventive measures after seeing family members and friends contract measles and other diseases.

In the last few weeks, many centres have seen growing numbers of people coming to be vaccinated against measles.

Over the last four months, there have been reports in the media about deaths from measles.

Hearing the reports, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Han of Thu Duc District's Linh Xuan Ward said she had brought her 26-month-old son to the ward's health centre for the vaccination.

Phan Trong Lan, head of the HCM City Pasteur Institute, said that the disease-prevention habits of local residents would help stop the spread of measles and other diseases.

Many residents believed that the responsibility for prevention rested in the hands of health officials and authorities, Lan said.

"So they do not take the initiative to clean areas around where they live," he said.

Most active participants in the local environmental-hygiene programmes are health officials and local authorities in wards and communes.

Entering Alley No. 226 in Linh Xuan Ward with more than 30 rented rooms, I saw a plot of land covered with rubbish thrown there by people who live in the rooms.

When asked whether they know that rubbish like disposable containers can be home to mosquito larvae when it rains, they said they were aware but they had little time to clear the area. They assumed that local authorities would do so. And, besides, no one in the area had contracted dengue fever, they said.

Although many residents are given free bottles of Chloramine B chemical disinfectant for the prevention of hand, foot and mouth disease, they still do not use it because they do not have the habit of disinfecting their homes.

Diseases such as hand, foot and mouth disease are still breaking out because of these attitudes, Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy head of the city Department of Health, said.

Residents should also take the initiative and participate in local environmental hygiene programmes and not rely solely on local officials, he said. —VNS