Vietnam, US cooperate in preventing viral hepatitis
Updated : 10/18/2012 13:08 GMT + 7
The San Francisco-Ho Chi Minh City Sister City Committee and HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to foster activities for prevention and control of liver diseases in Vietnam at a ceremony on Thursday.
Vietnamese-American Professor Bui Huy Tam, founder and president of the International Liver Foundation for Vietnam, represented the US committee in the signing with deputy professor Do Van Dung, UMP’s vice principal, under the witness of deputy professor Tran Diep Tuan and U.S. Consul General Le Thanh An.
The MoU's content:
Education and training about various forms of liver disease.
Expansion of nationwide screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) followed by, as appropriate, HBV vaccination or treatment.
In patients with identified liver disease, long-term surveillance for liver cancer.
Reduction of infection transmission related to medical, commercial, and personal reuse of contaminated needles, syringes, sharp instruments, razors, and inadequately sterilized medical equipment.
Ongoing collection and analysis of data about the prevalence of all forms of liver disease and the results of the expanded screening, vaccination, and treatment programs.
“I am happy to be here this morning to witness the signing of this MoU. Not only does this step make a very tangible contribution to public health by protecting health care providers from viral hepatitis infection, it is also an excellent way to raise awareness of the dangers of hepatitis throughout Vietnamese society,” the U.S. Consul General told the ceremony.
“I congratulate both partners in this enterprise for their efforts towards ridding Vietnam of this dangerous disease,” An added.
Vietnam has one of the highest Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection rates among Asian countries as 8 million among a population of about 85 million are believed to be infected with the hepatitis B virus and the hepatitis C virus. They could end up losing their lives due to cirrhosis or liver cancer as a result of this chronic infection.
According to Dr. Bui Duy Tam, HBV infections remain a major public health problem in Vietnam. Recent studies have found that the prevalence of current HBV infections ranges from 10% to 20% in the general population and 20% to 40% among injecting drug users and HIV+ patients.
However, HBV prevention and control in Vietnam relies heavily on a universal infant vaccination program and screening for blood donors, so appropriate interventions are urgently needed.
“HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy has started the program and I’m proud of being part of that. I hope that this program is a good example for other medical universities and health centers in Vietnam to follow,” Dr. Tam said.
The signing ceremony of MoU between San Francisco-Ho Chi Minh City Sister City Committee and Vietnam's University of Medicine and Pharmacy held in Ho Chi Minh City on October 18, 2012. Photo: Quynh Trung
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control are already providing technical assistance to the Vietnamese government for strengthening Vietnam’s capacity to screen for, test, diagnose, prevent, and treat viral hepatitis, the US Consul General said.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 2 billion people have been affected by the hepatitis B virus, and over 150 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C - that means approximately 1/5 of the world's population is living with hepatitis, and it is still spreading.
HBV can live for a week either in normal outdoor environments or after one hour in boiling water and is transmitted very readily and at a much higher rate than the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (AIDS).