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Doctor shortage among reasons for HCMC's high dengue fatality rate

By Chi Le - Thu Anh   June 29, 2022 | 05:30 am PT
Doctor shortage among reasons for HCMC's high dengue fatality rate
A doctor takes care of a dengue fever patient at the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases on June 21, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Thu Anh
The lack of healthcare staff and medicine has contributed to a high number of critical dengue fever cases and deaths in Ho Chi Minh City.

HCMC has recorded the nation's highest number of dengue fever patients with almost 19,000 cases in the year to date, an increase of 151 percent from the same period last year.

Of them, 311 were critical and 10 died, up seven fatalities against last year.

Hospitals in the city have reported overload and have let patients lie on beds placed along the hallway.

Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, deputy director of the municipal Health Department, said of the fatalities, three were transferred to Cho Ray Hospital in the inner city from Cu Chi General Hospital in the outlying district of Cu Chi, two hours from the downtown area.

Of 200 doctors at Cu Chi General Hospital, 40 percent have just graduated or have less than five years of experience and had never treated dengue fever.

Experienced doctors, meanwhile have quit or moved to other hospitals, he said.

"There are cases in which critical signs of dengue fever had not been detected in time, allowing the conditions to worsen," said Chau.

Department Deputy Director Nguyen Huu Hung said the situation had become a general problem across the city.

After the latest Covid-19 outbreak here, which lasted from June to October last year, 400 healthcare workers at ward/commune medical centers have quit. In most cases, they reported overload and low incomes.

For now, the monthly salary for the head of a medical center stands at VND6 million ($260), and at VND3.75 million for nurses and pharmacists.

Those staff, meanwhile, are in charge of performing tasks to protect the public from infectious diseases.

As for dengue fever, they are the ones who inspect areas that are most vulnerable and spray disinfectant.

In addition, the city is facing a lack of medicine to treat dengue fever and has been using another type as an alternative.

For medicine that Vietnam uses to treat dengue fever, producers request buyers to place orders at least six months in advance and once arriving in Vietnam, a bidding process of around five-six months.

Another reason leading to more critical dengue fever cases concerns patients who had failed to have their early symptoms diagnosed, which include high fever over two days.

 
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