WHO Supports Viet Nam in Gearing Up to End Tuberculosis

Source: http://www.wpro.who.int/


While the fight against tuberculosis (TB) is gaining momentum, too many people still suffer from the disease in Viet Nam. In 2013, 9 million people developed TB and 1.5 million died from the disease. Viet Nam ranks 13th among the 22 countries with the highest TB burden in the world. On World TB Day (24 March 2015), the World Health Organization (WHO) in Viet Nam calls for sustained commitments in the fight against TB and scaled-up actions to combat drug resistant TB.


"Although it has made good progress, Viet Nam must continue to sustain its efforts to further reduce TB burden. In parallel, WHO will continue to work with the National TB programme to introduce new medicines and technology to address evolving challenges such as drug resistant TB" said acting WHO Representative, Mr Jeffery Kobza. "Let us reinvigorate our efforts to reach, treat and cure all patients suffering from TB including drug-resistant forms. We need the concerted efforts of all sectors, not just health workers, to find and fight this disease wherever it hides."


One of the world's leading infectious killers, TB is caused by germs called the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, that most often affect the lungs. TB germs are spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, other people inhale germs and can become infected. Tuberculosis mostly affects young adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. Most importantly, TB is curable and preventable.


TB in Viet Nam


Viet Nam has made substantial progress and reached the TB-related Millennium Development Goals well in advance of the 2015 deadline. TB cases in Viet Nam continue to decline each year with an estimated mortality of TB cases dropping from 52/100.000 in 1990 to 19/100.000 people in 2013. Since 2000, TB treatment has saved hundreds of thousands lives in Viet Nam —this includes both TB patients and those who would have contracted TB from them had they not been treated. Tuberculosis deaths and prevalence have been reduced by more than 50% since 1990.


Despite this success, the challenges of TB remain monumental. WHO estimates that 130,000 cases of tuberculosis occurred in Viet Nam in 2013 (144/100.000 population). TB concentrates in vulnerable populations, such as migrants, children, older people and the poor. Detecting these cases can be more difficult than in the general population. In addition, an estimated 5,000 multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases occurred in 2013 in Viet Nam.


WHO response


WHO pursues several core functions in supporting Viet Nam’s National TB programme to address TB. In line with the STOP TB Strategy (2006-2015) and End TB strategy (2016-2035), WHO supports Viet Nam to pursue high-quality and timely TB detection and treatment services for both drug sensitive and drug resistant TB.


Special attention is given to vulnerable populations such as TB and HIV co-infected people, people in congregate settings (e.g. prisons, and certain industrial sectors), migrants, and those with co-morbidity such as diabetes.


To reduce further development of drug-resistant TB, regulation of TB drug sale in the market is an important health system intervention. Strengthening partnerships between the national TB programme and other government and private health care services is also a crucial element in order to assure early TB case detection and proper treatment.


WHO is also supporting the introduction of new regimens and new drugs for drug-resistant TB to give patients suffering from drug-resistant forms of TB a better chance to be cured.


In 2014, the World Health Assembly approved an ambitious 20-year (2016–2035) strategy as the post-2015 global TB strategy. This strategy, named “End TB Strategy”, envisions a world free of TB with zero deaths, disease and suffering. In line with the global TB strategy, the Viet Nam National TB Strategy has outlined actions to provide patient-centered care, pursue policies and systems that enable prevention and care, and drive research and innovations needed to end the epidemic and eliminate TB.


World TB Day provides patients, affected communities, governments, civil society, organizations, health-care providers and international partners an opportunity to put the elimination of TB at the top of the agenda, increasing the momentum to end TB altogether.

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