Southern centre for public health emergencies opens in HCM City

August 24, 2017 - 09:00

Việt Nam’s Ministry of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services yesterday officially opened the Southern Việt Nam Public Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Pasteur Institute HCM City.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Southern Vietnam Public Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was held at the Pasteur Institute HCM City yesterday. VNA/VNS Photo Phương Vy
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s Ministry of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services yesterday (August 23) officially opened the Southern Việt Nam Public Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Pasteur Institute HCM City.

The EOC will serve as the regional coordination hub for rapid response in the event of a disease outbreak or other public health emergency affecting southern cities and provinces.

The EOC team will also analyze disease surveillance data, conduct outbreak investigations, and strengthen public health coordination systems.

Speaking at the opening, the Minister of Health, Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến, said: “In the globalization era, outbreaks of disease and other public health issues pose significant threats and present challenges not only to Việt Nam but to the global community as well.”

Epidemics can spread rapidly from country to country, from one continent to other continent, as they did during the outbreak of SARS, H1N1, H5N1 and H7N9 influenza, MERs-Cov, Ebola and Zika viruses, seriously affecting public health and the economies of affeccted economies and the world, according to Tiến.

To proactively respond to public health events, particularly threatening and emerging infectious diseases and outbreaks, the Ministry of Health has committed to participating in the Global Health Security Programme (GHS), implemented by the US government, and other countries and organisations.

Within GHS, Việt Nam plays an important role in adoption of the EOC model for disease prevention and control, and in response to public health issues.

The national EOC, which has been operating since 2013, has applied standard procedures to respond to disease and outbreak control and prevention, such as readily responding to Ebola, MER-CoV and Avian influenza (H7N9) viruses which occurred in other countries and had the potential to spread to Việt Nam.

The EOC in 2016 took action to respond to the Zika virus and this year to dengue fever outbreaks.

The establishment of the northern EOC at the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology last year, and the opening yesterday of the southern EOC at Pasteur Institute in HCM City, represents a “milestone for the EOC system to collect information about public health threats from different sources, analyze data and disseminate findings in a timely manner,” Tiến said.

“This will help us make data-driven plans to effectively respond to emergency public health situations in a coordinated way,” she said.

US collaboration

“The US is working with other nations around the world to increase their capabilities to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases that know no borders,” said Thomas Price, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“The collaboration between Việt Nam and the US will further the partnership between our two nations and strengthen global health security,” he added.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pasteur Institute HCM City have partnered to address public health concerns for more than 15 years.

Through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Pasteur Institute of HCM City was the first laboratory to support routine viral load testing. Its surveillance work has been instrumental in understanding the changing HIV epidemic.

“Việt Nam has been a strong and early partner in global health security efforts, participating in CDC programmes and building on earlier successes to advance the goals of the Global Health Security Agenda,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.

“CDC is committed to working with Việt Nam and the Pasteur Institute to build the systems and capacities to tackle global pandemic threats,” she added.

MoU on nat’l laboratory

Also yesterday, the Ministry of Health of Việt Nam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US Department of Health and Human Services for the Development of a National Reference Laboratory at a separate meeting held in HCM City. The MoU was signed by Price and Tiến.

The MoU establishes a general framework on cooperation in enhancing the capacity of laboratories to set up a national reference laboratory for the public healthcare system in Việt Nam. — VNS