Vietnam seeks to end TB by 2030

By Le Nga   December 15, 2020 | 11:14 pm PT
Vietnam seeks to end TB by 2030
A doctor checks on residents coming for tuberculosis check at the medical center of HCMC's Go Vap District, November 2020. Photo by Go Vap medical center.
Health authorities are proactively seeking to identify early cases of tuberculosis among high-risk groups instead of waiting for sick people to show up at hospitals.

"In the past the health sector in Vietnam always sat back and waited until people had already developed TB symptoms to begin treatment, and that has not been enough," Nguyen Viet Nhung, deputy director of the National Lung Hospital, said.

It must be proactive and find people infected with the bacteria before they develop the disease, he told a conference on medical cooperation for ending TB in Vietnam held in Hanoi on Tuesday.

In the last nine months the sector has been using the so-called "Double X" strategy for TB identification with the goal of ending the disease by 2030.

Double X diagnoses TB by using chest X-rays and GeneXpert, a diagnostic method that detects the TB bacteria.

"Double X is a tool to detect the source of infection, allowing early location of the outbreak and create conditions for ending it as soon as possible," Nhung said.

The method involves early diagnosis of tuberculosis including drug-susceptibility testing and systematic screening of contacts and high-risk groups before treating all people with TB including drug-resistant TB, and patient support.

It has been deployed in seven localities -- Can Tho City and Thai Binh, Nghe An, An Giang, Dong Nai, Tay Ninh, and Tien Giang provinces -- where 29 vans carrying the X-ray machine and 200 Xpert testing devices go around to test high-risk groups.

With support from the United States Agency for International Development, it will be expanded to 25 other places.

Nguyen Binh Hoa, deputy head of the National Tuberculosis Control Program, said Vietnam is a country with a high TB burden.

Official data shows that every year the nation of 95 million records 176,000 new cases and 13,000 deaths, which also causes a great burden on the health system since TB treatment is free, and on the economy since the labor productivity of recovering patients is low.

The World Health Organization said in 2018 that Vietnam had the world's 11th highest TB incidence.

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