|Ha Noi animal health officials take samples from poultry on sale at the Ha Vi wholesale market to test for the H7N9 virus. The Vietnamese Government called on international partners for support in response to the looming threat of avian flu. —VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS)— The Vietnamese Government has called on international partners to help mobilise resources to fight the avian influenza A/H7N9, which is threatening to spread from neighbouring China where it has claimed 27 lives out of 128 cases.
The appeal was made at a conference co-hosted by the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and Health in Ha Noi yesterday.
"We are taking this situation very seriously," said Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat in a joint statement.
"We've learnt from past experience that animal and human health sectors need to collaborate and take early action to prevent the spread of any new disease that threatens the health of people and animal trade," the ministers said.
To date, Viet Nam has reported no cases of A/H7N9 in either humans or poultry. But the country had experience in containing SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) 10 years ago, and avian flu H5N1 recently.
Deputy director of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department Vu Sinh Nam said at the conference that there was a high risk that A/H7N9 could spread to Viet Nam, given the complicated situation in China and the hard-to-control illegal smuggling of poultry via border gates.
The Health Ministry has mapped out four situations in response to the lethal virus at a total cost of nearly US$115 million, of which $36.4 million will come from the Government, while the remainder is expected to be from international sources.
In situation 1, when no cases are reported in humans, the country needs to disburse $17 million, targeting communication, prevention, research and vaccination and equipment for outbreak control.
More money will be spent on treatment in other situations.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said the estimated amount had been studied carefully between the ministry and international partners, and it would be ample to help Viet Nam fight the disease.
According to the ministry, all levels of the health system across the country had been urged to take precautions against A/H7N9. It had enhanced flu surveillance at border crossings to ensure early detection of initial cases.
National influenza centres in Ha Noi and HCM City were on standby to receive samples to diagnose the A/H7N9 virus in humans.
Hospitals and healthcare workers in the country had been put on high alert.
Deputy head of the agriculture ministry's Animal Health Department Nguyen Thu Thuy said a surveillance programme had been put in place in the northern provinces to test for the A/H7N9 virus in poultry.
Accordingly, local authorities would collect 18,000 specimens from 60 live bird markets and bird gathering places for testing against the virus.
An early test by the ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 500 poultry samples proved negative for the virus.
The ministry has also estimated $5.5 million would be needed for a response against an outbreaks in poultry.
World Bank's specialist Nguyen Thi Mai said at the conference that the institution would support Viet Nam in the fight against an outbreak.
Mai also proposed prevention and control tasks should be integrated into on-going projects in communities to save cost.
The exact amount of the aid would be discussed between the two ministries, she said.
In a joint statement, the World Health Organisation and the FAO in Viet Nam also pledged assistance.
"While A/H7N9 has not yet been found in Viet Nam, early detection is the key to disease prevention, control and containment," WHO representative in Viet Nam Takeshi Kasai, and FAO senior technical co-ordinator Scott Newman jointly stated.
First patient dies of H1N1 in HCM City
HCM CIty reported the first fatal case of A/H1N1flu this year yesterday at Hospital 7A.
The 72-year-old male victim was hospitalised on May 2 with symptoms of high fever, cough and suffocation after visiting Sac forest in Can Gio District for two days, the victim's family said.
According to the hospital, the patient had not been in contact with any infected people or animals.
The local health department has disinfected the victim's house and given Tamiflu to his family to prevent the disease from spreading.
This year, the country reported two deaths in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai and one in central Thanh Hoa Province. About 60 people were killed by the virus H1N1 in the country in 2010. — VNS