Nine more hospitals in HCM City are set to open tuberculosis departments this year to combat the spread of the disease, according to leaders of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital which manages the city's TB prevention programme.

They include Cho Ray, Thong Nhat, Trung Vuong, Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Tri Phuong, Binh Dan, Dermatology, Tropical Diseases, and Traumatology and Orthopaedics.

Pham Minh Cuong of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital 's molecular virology ward told a workshop held in HCM City on Jan.20 that the network currently comprised 21 hospitals.

The hospital would continue to work with many private and public ones to get them into the programme, he said.

Tuberculosis prevention teams in the city's 24 districts would begin to co-ordinate their activities more and work closer with hospitals, he added.

In this year's programme, the hospital has suggested that the city Department of Health set up outpatient clinics in the five districts without them — 11, Cu Chi, Can Gio, Nha Be and Tan Phu — to diagnose TB in HIV patients.

The clinics in Districts 6, Binh Thanh, Binh Tan and Thu Duc will begin providing the isoniazid preventive therapy against TB for people with HIV.

Last year 16,145 TB patients were treated in the city.

Also at the workshop, Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital unveiled plans for starting an asthma prevention programme this year.

Currently, 21 districts in the city have teams specialising in prevention of bronchial asthma, and they also diagnose and treat the disease, carry out awareness compaigns, and train grassroots health workers.

The remaining three districts will set up similar teams this year.

Last year 1,149 people were treated for asthma, three times the 2009 number./.