Representatives of ministries, sectors, hospitals and international organisations gathered at a workshop held in Hanoi on May 14 to seek methods to prevent and control non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Representatives from Vietnam’s National Cancer Hospital (K Hospital), Bach Mai Hospital and the National Hospital of Endocrinology briefed participants on the current NCD situation in Vietnam, international experience and recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They also suggested effective approaches for NCD prevention and control, highlighting the inclusion of NCD-related healthcare in primary service providers.

Scientific studies revealed major risk determinants, include smoking, alcohol abuse, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity.

Director of the K Hospital Bui Dieu cited surveys in the community saying that only 35 percent of those interviewed had basic understandings of cancer; 67.2 percent said all cancers are fatal.

He also suggested developing a strategy for cancer prevention and control from 2016 onwards, and making use of the available resources to enhance NCD early detection, treatment and care to improve the quality of life for patients with NCDs.

The National Strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) for 2015-2020 aims to manage the progression of the diseases and reduce NCD-related early fatality and disability.

The strategy also points to measures to strengthen the enforcement of legal frameworks, relevant policies, expand publicity campaigns and improve healthcare service quality and supervision.

Non-communicable diseases—such as high-blood pressure, pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, diabetes and cancer—account for two-thirds of the total disease incidence and health-related mortality in Vietnam.

Vietnam currently has 12.5 million people with high blood pressure, 2.5 million diabetics and more than 2 million others suffering from COPD and asthma.

About 125,000 new cases of cancer are detected every year, according to the Ministry of Health’s Preventive Medicine Department.

In 2012, there were 520,000 health-related deaths including more than 379,000 caused by NCDs, mostly cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and COPD. In other words, seven in every 10 health-related deaths were from non-infectious diseases.

NCD treatment can cost 40-50 times more than communicable disease treatment, requiring advanced technology, expensive medicine and prolonged treatment.-VNA