Vietnam now ranks 12th out of 22 countries which have the highest numbers of tuberculosis patients in the world, and ranks 14th out of 27 countries which have multiple drug resistant versions of tuberculosis.
Ass. Prof. Dinh Ngoc Sy, chairman of the National Tuberculosis Control Program and director of the Hanoi-based National Lung Diseases Hospital, said around 70,000 new patients are diagnosed with active tuberculosis every year in Vietnam.
Sy said that the number is high despite a national program to control tuberculosis. It shows a slow response in detecting and treating the disease.
Vietnam is in serious shortage of workers who are specialized in tuberculosis prevention, Sy added.
The director of a hospital in the central city of Da Nang showed his worry over the shortage. “I’m wondering who will replace us to fight tuberculosis in the future. Our hospital has not been able to recruit any health worker who is specialized in tuberculosis prevention in the past ten years,” he said.
According to a recent survey, there are around 200,000 new latent tuberculosis patients and the disease kills 30,000 people every year. About 40 percent of new patients are between 22 and 44 years old with a majority of being males.
In Vietnam, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 patients with multiple drug resistant versions of the infectious disease that attacks the lungs and is spread through the air when patients cough, sneeze or otherwise transmit their saliva.
Doctors said around seven percent of patients do not get themselves examined or treated, because they were embarrassed that people would know they had the infectious disease. Others did not follow the whole treatment process or comply with preventive measures, like having individual sets of utensils, to avoid the disease spreading to other members of the family.
Dr. Pham Quang Tue of the National Lung Diseases Hospital warned against a high proportion of AIDS patients contracting tuberculosis.
“Many AIDS patients are afraid of discrimination and reluctant to go to hospital for examination. Their illness would worsen and pose high risk for spreading the (tuberculosis) disease in the community,” Tue said.