The nation has to date recorded over 7,000 cases of measles this year, one third of which is in Hanoi, said Director of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases Nguyen Van Kinh at a meeting in Hanoi on April 16 to review the outbreak.

The disease erupted in 61 out of 63 cities and provinces in the first quarter of this year. The number of fatalities from measles complications has amounted to 108, including 25 deaths directly attributable to the disease.

At the meeting, which was also attended by experts from the World Health Organisation, Minister of Public Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said the disease is also plaguing the Philippines, China and Japan. In Vietnam, the rate of infections is lower than the 2009 – 2010 level but the fatalities are higher, especially in Hanoi. Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City has seen fewer cases without any deaths, Tien said. She attributed the high fatalities in Hanoi to the fact that most serious cases are transferred to the city, particularly the National Hospital of Pediatrics.

Experts stressed the need to ease the overload in the National Hospital of Pediatrics, which they said causes more infections.

The health minister affirmed the ministry will provide hospitals nationwide with more respirators and antibiotics.

At the same time, she made it clear that vaccination for children is the essential and long-term measure to counter the disease.

Vietnam is in the stage of curbing measles and expects to eliminate the disease by 2017.-VNA