Health authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have reported an additional 12,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients over the past three years, on top of its annual number of 17,000-18,000 TB cases, given the support of international healthcare organizations, especially the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The figures were revealed by Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy director of the municipal Department of Health, at a free-of-charge TB health screening event held on Saturday in District 5.
The event also gathered Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, along with other health officials and employees at home and abroad.
Walensky discussed with healthcare workers the procedures for taking chest X-rays and returning the results to local residents, while sharing with local people the benefits of TB screening.
|A local healthcare worker tells Nguyen Thi Lang, an 82-year-old resident in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, and her husband how to take care of her skin after a latent TB skin test. Photo: Xuan Mai / Tuoi Tre|
At the event, more than 300 locals, including the elderly, co-infected patients, and those with probable TB infection received TB screening tests, latent TB skin tests, and chest X-rays, among others.
People with abnormal X-ray test results will take a sputum test to find TB bacteria that can cause an infection.
Healthcare workers will guide those with TB infection through treatment and care measures.
One of the beneficiaries, 82-year-old Nguyen Thi Lang, residing in District 5, said, “It’s my first time taking a TB screening test for free.
“The event is very essential for elderly people who cough a lot like me.”
It took Lang and her husband around an hour to finish the TB screening tests. Their chest X-ray test results came back normal.
Also, they were told to return there to get the latent TB skin test results in the next two days.
Aside from its achievements in TB diagnosis, treatment, and care, Ho Chi Minh City has faced multiple obstacles to reach the Vietnamese government’s goal of ending TB by 2030, as the population density and mobility are much larger than that in other localities in the country.
Nguyen Huu Lan, director of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital in the city, said the city’s current population density is 4,476 people per square kilometer, 15.5-fold higher than Vietnam’s average figure.
|A man gets a chest X-ray test, in addition to receiving TB screening and latent TB skin tests at no charge at a TB health screening event in Ho Chi Minh City, March 18, 2023. Photo: Xuan Mai / Tuoi Tre|
TB outbreaks will spread rapidly in densely populated areas, Lan added.
During the fourth coronavirus wave in the city in 2021, the number of TB patients in the community declined 24 percent against the pre-pandemic period in 2019.
The head of the Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital said it is essential to conduct TB screening in the community, as many patients could spread the bacteria to those they daily spend time with, such as family members and friends.
Echoing the view, the deputy director of the municipal health authority underlined the need to detect probable TB cases in the community as soon as possible to timely provide them with medical treatment and care.
To do so, the health official proposed international healthcare organizations, especially the CDC, continue their support for the city in implementing TB and HIV prevention and control programs.
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