USAID helps Vietnam redouble efforts to end TB hinh anh 1At the event (Photo courtesy of the US Embassy in Vietnam)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) and USAID on December 15 expanded the Ministry of Health/NTP’s “Double X” Strategy for tuberculosis (TB) case identification in a bid to wipe out this respiratory disease in Vietnam by 2030.

Double X is a new strategy to diagnose TB using chest X-rays and GeneXpert, a diagnostic method that detects TB bacteria.

At an event entitled “Health Partnerships to End TB in Vietnam - Applying the “Double X” Strategy held on December 15 in Hanoi, participants shared key achievements and lessons in implementing the Strategy, including key achievements of the NTP toward TB goals; outcomes from USAID Sustainable HIV and TB Responses from Technical Assistance (SHIFT) activity on the Double-X Strategy in seven provinces in Vietnam, experiences from provincial TB programmes; and multi-faceted TB strategies using Double X from international organisations.

Vietnam ranks 11th among the 30 countries that account for nearly 90 percent of the world’s TB burden. It is also one of the most common communicable diseases in the country.

Each year, it is estimated that 170,000 people become sick from TB in Vietnam, but only around 100,000 are accounted for in the National TB system, leaving around 50,000 community TB cases undiagnosed, and the remaining 20,000 diagnosed but not reported.

Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen said the country has made encouraging achievements in the fight against TB, especially the fact that it could successfully treat 92 percent of first-time TB patients, 75-80 percent of the patients with multidrug resistant TB with short-term treatment while the global figure is about 56 percent.

The number of TB patients is on a gradual downtrend, with a decline of only 4 percent a year, according to Tuyen, who said the national programme should maximise the use of existing tools in diagnosing and treating TB with universal health insurance; while at the same time, expanding the application of new identification tools, new drugs and vaccines, with the help of partners both in and outside the country.

Professor Nguyen Viet Nhung, chair of the national programme on fighting TB, said just like COVID-19, TB infection incidents need to be detected as soon as possible so risks of transmission in the community are reduced and the hospitalisation for the patients themselves would be shorter.

Ending the TB epidemic in Vietnam will require intensive effort. The USAID SHIFT project’s partnership with the NTP has piloted the comprehensive Double X Strategy in health facilities and communities in 18 districts in seven provinces (Thai Binh, Nghe An, An Giang, Can Tho, Dong Nai, Tay Ninh, and Tien Giang).

Double X will be further scaled up to 25 provinces in December 2020. Sites for implementation will include provincial hospitals (lung hospitals, general hospitals) as well as district health centres and general hospitals./.