WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme Director, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva. (Photo: Vietnam’s National TB Programme)
A delegation from the WHO Global Tuberculosis (TB) Programme, led by its director, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, had a working visit to Vietnam from July 23-27. At the end of the working session, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva granted Vietnamese media an interview related to TB control in the country, as well as WHO's commitments to support Vietnam in TB prevention and control.
Vietnam is one of the countries with a high burden of TB in the world with one of the highest incidences of TB in the region. However, thanks to efforts from all levels, the country has shifted from textual commitments to practical actions by not only reducing the incident of deaths from the disease but also becoming one of the nations to take the lead in TB prevention in the community, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva highlighted.
The expert said that, despite a high burden of TB, Vietnam has a very good system of TB prevention from the central to grassroots levels, covering the examination, treatment and care of people with TB. This demonstrates the high commitments from Vietnam’s leaders as well as from the local TB programmes, she affirmed.
The WHO official expressed her organisation willingness in supporting Vietnam through WHO technical assistance to cope with the global disease burden, with high rates of morbidity and mortality among the communicable diseases in the world.
To succeed in ending the epidemic, more efforts should be paid towards developing new approaches, so as to have a deeper, more comprehensive participation of the relevant units, she suggested, adding that it is critical to prioritise intervention in TB prevention, especially supporting the disadvantaged patients and vulnerable groups.
Dr. Tereza Kasaeva also urged Vietnam to focus on strengthening TB screening and prevention with the goal of ending TB in its early stages by providing high-quality diagnostic services to all TB patients. By doing this, Vietnam could ensure that all people have access to health care, she added.
In addition, Vietnam should raise public awareness on TB so that people know what TB is and to be more aware of their health against the disease, as in fact, one third of the world's population generally have TB bacteria in their body but not all of them can develop into TB, Kasaeva said, adding that people need to take preventive measures to prevent TB bacteria from developing into diseases.
She suggested organising community-based awareness raising programmes, such as the "Run for Health", combined with increasing the role of leaders in ensuring long-term financial sustainability and multi-sectorial cooperation in TB prevention.
Vietnam has developed a well-organised TB prevention system from the central to grassroots levels, covering the examination, treatment and care of people with TB. (Photo: laodong.vn)
Regarding future support for Vietnam from the WHO on the issue, Dr. Tereza Kasaeva said that her delegation arrived Vietnam with an aim of assessing the current situation, difficulties and advantages in Vietnam in TB control. Based on the assessment, WHO will assist the country in improving its capacity in TB diagnosis, treatment and research through technical assistance
According to her, WHO support comes in the form of support in strengthening the local TB surveillance system, supporting the development of guidelines for TB diagnosis and treatment, and providing training and capacity building. More importantly, Vietnam’s national TB programme needs to have a coordinated approach with the participation of local organisations in TB prevention, she proposed.
Stating that Vietnam's anti-TB programme has been well-organised, the WHO official expressed her belief that the country would successfully fulfill the goal of ending TB by 2030. However, it is important to note that there should be social support for TB patients in order to not let them fall into financial difficulties and burdens in treatment costs caused by the disease, Kasaeva affirmed.
Worldwide, 30 countries have a high burden of TB and Vietnam is ranked 16th in terms of TB in general and 13th for TB drug resistant in particular. In 2017, the country recorded an additional 126,000 people with TB and 13,000 died of TB. Every year, Vietnam has detected and treated more than 100,000 people with TB.
Vietnam has a high rate of new infections detected annually, at 81%, and maintains a highly cured rate of over 90% for new cases. Multidrug-resistant TB has been detected and treated with high rates of recovery. In 2017, 5,827 drug-resistant TB cases were diagnosed with a cure rate reaching over 75%, compared to 52% globally.
The country has issued quite completed and adequate legal documents for ending TB. The national TB and lung disease control system gathers 50 highly qualified specialised hospitals together with domestic and international partners, creating a strong and effective TB control network that can apply new technological achievements in TB treatment in Vietnam. A series of new advances, drugs and approaches are being implemented, such as the TB treatment research programme in the community to reduce new infections./.