Vietnam aims to reduce number of tuberculosis patients hinh anh 1TB treatment in Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam is striving to reduce the rate of tuberculosis (TB) patients to 131 cases/100,000 people and the fatality rate from the disease to lower than 10/100,000 people by 2020, according to Nguyen Binh Hoa, Secretary of the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP).

The programme also aims to ensure access of people with TB to high-quality treatment services and medicines.

Vietnam ranks 12 th out of 22 countries worldwide with the highest rates of TB patients, and the 14 th among 27 nations with the higest prevalence of multi drug-resistant TB (MDR TB).

About 130,000 new TB cases are reported in Vietnam every year. In 2015 alone, over 100,000 TB cases were diagnosed, up 155 over the figure recorded in the previous year.

Notably, more than 5,000 drug-resistant TB patients are reported in the country every year, with nearly 6 percent suffering from extensively drug - resistant TB ( XDR TB).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said TB is the second leading infectious cause of death while XDR is present in almost all countries.

Statistics from the WHO showed that 17,000 people died of TB in Vietnam in 2014. About 4 percent of new TB patients are multidrug-resistant, while the rate for those undergoing treatment is 23 percent.

According to Director of the National Lung Hospital Nguyen Viet Nhung, Vietnam reaped remarkable achievements in preventing the disease in recent years. However, the country still witnesses up to 46 fatalities from TB every day.

Nhung noted that Vietnam has applied a treatment regimen for both drug-resistant TB and XDR TB. Treatment for MDR TB patients is now shortened to only 9 months instead of between 20-24 months in the past.

Last year, the National Lung Hospital set up the lung and tuberculosis research cooperation centre (VICTORY), which is responsible for building and developing a TB research network and supporting medical studies in Vietnam.

A research network of TB and lung-related diseases with the involvement of domestic and foreign partners is scheduled to be built in the country, towards improving the quality of TB diagnosis and treatment in all-level hospitals nationwide, Hoa said.

Health experts stressed the need to enhance links among relevant sectors in preventing TB, as well as intensify communication campaigns to raise public awareness of the disease and precautionary measures. TB is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It most commonly affects the lungs and the disease is transmitted from person to person via bacteria from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease, according to the WHO.

The symptoms of active lung TB are coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.-VNA