Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The Ministry of Health, hospitals and medical associations are trying to fight fake medical information spread on the internet by launching public awareness campaigns and programmes.
Late last month, the National Hospital of Endocrinology admitted a 82-year-old patient with diabetes for serious burns and numbness in arms and legs.
The man’s brother had bought a stone recommended for treating numbness and improving blood circulation after seeing an advertisement on the internet.
Doctors at the hospital said that patients with diabetes should never apply heat to areas of numbness on the body.
“We now are drowning in a lot of information on the internet and don’t know what is fake and what is not,” HCM City resident Phan Sơn said.
Many individuals and companies are misusing photos of famous doctors on social media and websites to provide misleading or inaccurate information about treatment and prevention of disease.
Dr Trương Hữu Khanh of HCM City’s Paediatrics Hospital No. 1’s infectious and nervous diseases department has also seen his photo misused on many Facebook pages.
Professor Nguyễn Lân Việt, standing vice president of the Việt Nam National Heart Association, said: “My photo has appeared many times on certain websites that share tips for treatment of a certain disease.”
The association also has its own website that contains health information for the public. “This information helps people learn about preventive methods against disease,” Việt said.
The association is working with Merck Export GMBH Việt Nam to maintain a website, which was set up last May to provide health education about common cardiovascular diseases in the community such as hypertension, coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure.
Both websites aim to help everyone access quality medical and health information based on scientific evidence.
To prevent confusion among patients, Việt said that health awareness and education programmes for patients were needed as well as sustained collaboration through Public-Private Partnership’s across stakeholders such as scientific societies, health authorities and industry.
Dr Nguyễn Ngô Quang, deputy head of Administration of Science, Technology and Training under the Ministry of Health, said that health education programmes were needed in the community.
“Patients account for 20 to 30 per cent of the country’s total population. Health education and communications are very vital,” Quang said.
To address the problem, the ministry launched a Việt Nam Health Programme last month, according to Việt.
Quang said the ministry would set up a website that would include information from other useful websites.
Many hospitals have also set up websites and clubs for patients to improve their awareness about health issues.
Thống Nhất Hospital in HCM City, for example, has placed posters on fences around the hospital about regularly scheduled doctors’ talks on nutrition and diseases, which are open to the public.
Thủ Đức Hospital has created clubs for patients, especially for those with cancer, in which they share their feelings and experiences about medical treatment.
Set up in 2011, the club for cancer patients has also been effective in educating cancer patients about unscientific therapies which could worsen their health.
The HCM City Paediatrics Hospital (in Bình Chánh District), Xuyên Á Hospital, University Medical Centre and others have established Facebook pages for communications. The HCM City Paediatrics Hospital, for example, provides live streams of doctors providing consultations on its Facebook page. — VNS