|A staff member with the Right Care programme of HCM City Public Health Association gives a skin test to a woman whose husband is being treated for TB. — VNS Photo Gia Lộc|
HCM CITY — Free X-rays and TB skin tests for people at high risk of contracting TB were provided last Sunday by medical staff working in a mobile healthcare vehicle in HCM City’s Tân Bình District.
Organised by the HCM City Public Health Association, the TB screenings are part of the association’s Right Care programme.
High-risk groups include relatives who live with TB patients; those who live in and near areas with many TB patients; others living in areas with high population density and poor labourers; people with HIV; drug addicts; and others with chronic disease.
The programme’s counsellors visited each household in the district with high-risk occupants to inform them about the free X-ray testing, and to encourage them to take part in the Right Care programme.
A 27-year-old woman from the the district’s Ward 6, whose husband tested positive for TB more than 20 days ago, had an X-ray on the mobile healthcare vehicle parked at the People’s Committee building.
“My mother-in-law and I were encouraged to come here for screening. I was asked to visit the TB prevention team at the district health centre this Tuesday to get the results of the skin test. My X-ray was negative," she said.
Another woman from Tân Bình District was also encouraged to take part because her husband had been treated for TB for five months.
“The programme is very helpful. I think it should be offered in every ward in the district so that more people can benefit,” Tuyết said.
Dr Hoàng Văn Thắng, head of the district’s TB prevention team, said the screening was offered in the district last Sunday to give high-risk people who work during the week better access to testing.
“It can detect TB early and provide treatment that helps prevent transmission,” Thắng said.
Last year, the programme found that eight of 556 people who were X-rayed had TB, including two with drug-resistant TB, he said, Of these, 96 people had one damaged lung or more.
The programme is carried out under co-operation with Phạm Ngọc Thạch Hospital, which is in charge of TB prevention and treatment, and with the funders of the project, the Friends for International Tuberculosis Relief, IMPACT TB, and the EU, according to Dr Vũ Nguyên Thanh of the HCM City Public Health Association.
The aim is to detect and treat more TB patients to reach the target of zero number of TB cases in Việt Nam by 2030.
Last December, the Right Care Programme was carried out in districts 6, 8, 12, Tân Bình, Hóc Môn, Bình Chánh and Gò Vấp, offering free screenings, with a total of 3,133 people accessing the service. Of this number, 50 were found to have TB.
The programme, which continues in these seven districts, recently began in District 7, Thanh said.
X-ray results are given to patients right after the tests. If they have a damaged lung, the patients are given a Gene-Xpert test for rapid diagnosis of TB, which has a 90 per cent accuracy rate.
If the test is positive, they are treated at a health centre in the district where they live.
The screening programme, which is being carried out from March 24-31, is expected to serve a total of 2,500 people in the seven districts plus the newly added District 7.
Unlike last year, participants who are relatives of TB patients are given a skin test because some of them are infected but have no symptoms.
“The testing programme is convenient because it is held on the weekend,” Thanh said.
Việt Nam ranks 15th of 30 countries with the highest burden of TB cases, according to the HCM City Public Health Association.
The country has estimated 123,000 new incidences of TB every year. However, only 81 per cent of them are detected and treated.
The remaining 19 per cent of TB patients need to be tested as early as possible for treatment and prevention of transmission, the association said. — VNS