Children with hand, foot and mouth disease are treated at HCM City-based Children’s Hospital 1. VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hải
HCM CITY— Many children’s hospitals in HCM City are facing a shortage of phenobarbital which is used to treat or prevent seizures for children diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease or epilepsy.
Dr Trương Hữu Khanh, head of the Infectious and Nervous Diseases Department at Children’s Hospital 1, said that hand, foot and mouth incidences were increasing in the last several weeks. The hospital had treated more than 30 cases since early September. Of these, one patient in serious condition was being treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit and another had cardiac complications.
According to the city's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the city recorded 555 hand, foot and mouth incidences over a four week period by mid-September, an increase of 50.2 per cent compared to the previous four weeks.
The total number of hand, foot and mouth incidences as of mid-September this year had been 5,697. The city has not recorded any fatality due to hand, foot and mouth disease this year.
Phenobarbital, which is recommended in the Ministry of Health’s treatment protocol for hand, foot and mouth disease, is on the list of vital medicines issued by the ministry.
Khanh said that a number of hospitals nationwide were facing a shortage of phenobarbital because the last imported lot had been exhausted.
Dr Đỗ Châu Việt, head of the Infectious and Nervous Diseases Department at the Children’s Hospital 2, said it faced a shortage as well.
The hospitals were using other sedatives to replace phenobarbital, but those sedatives were less effective and could cause respiratory failure if they are used for a long time.
Đỗ Văn Dũng, head of the pharmaceutical division at the city Department of Health, told Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper that according to the Drug Administration of Việt Nam, international manufacturers had stopped production of phenobarbital. The ministry had told hospitals to set up new guidelines on using other sedatives to replace phenobarbital.
In July, the Medical Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health instructed health departments and hospitals in provinces and cities to improve public and patient communications about treatment of the hand, foot and mouth disease.
Health departments should review and amend planning on hand, foot and mouth disease prevention and control, and should ensure a sufficient amount of medicine, medical materials and facilities, and human resources for admission and treatment of patients to prevent fatalities.
As of July, the country had recorded 10,745 hand, foot and mouth incidences in 63 provinces and cities. VNS