Officials from the Health Ministry have promised to enhance prevention methods against the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) now that its complicated developments are turning Vietnam into a world hotspot.
Children brought for health examination at HCMC Children's Hospital No.2. Worsen HFMD has sent more of them to the hospital (Photo: Minh Tri)
The officials admitted that low determination to prevent the disease from medical agencies has left the public still off-guard.
Vietnam has become the country with second highest HFMD infection ratio in the world, after China, with around a thousand new infections of Enterovirus 71, which causes the disease, every week.
Although the disease has not reached its worst moments, Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Tropical Diseases and the city Children’s Hospitals No 1 and No 2 have always been packed with children patients of HFMD.
The children have to share beds and many have to take the corridors.
Doctor Trinh Hue Tong from the Children’s Hospital No 2 said the number of HFMD cases at the hospital as surged since the beginning of May, with an average of 20 new infections every day.
The hospital has allocated three more doctors and five nurses to the Infection Faculty to help with the situation.
At the Mekong Delta, medical officials from Can Tho and provinces including Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Tien Giang and An Giang have reported around 7,000 HFMD cases as of Wednesday.
The disease concentrates in Dong Thap, Can Tho and Vinh Long, with between 800 and 1,800 cases reported in each location.
At least two children in the delta have been killed by the disease, from Dong Thap and An Giang.
According to medical officials in the region, the number of infections has jumped by three to eight times year on year.
The northern region saw less severe situation but hundreds of infections have also been reported from Hanoi and nearby provinces including Thanh Hoa, Hoa Binh, Ninh Binh and Bac Giang.
Doctor Tran Ngoc Hue, head of CHIC Pasteur Institute, said that HFMD tends to peak between May and June or September and November every year.
It’s August now and the number of infections has almost 2.5 times higher than the same time last year, Hue said.
Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said medical authorities have just spent time dealing with HFMD instead of trying to prevent it.
A number of hospitals and medical centers are only focusing forces on treating infected children and saving them from death, Tien said.
They have not paid proper attention to preventing the disease or educating the public with precautionary methods, she said.
Her deputy Trinh Quoc Hung said that many localities have not been active and determined in preventing the disease.
The ministry has provided chemicals to cities and provinces for sterilizing purposes.
But at some places, local officials distributed the chemicals to people without use instructions, thus causing a lot of waste.
The ministry forecasts that the number of people infected with HFMD will continue to surge in the coming time, especially when the disease reached its peak starting September.
Nguyen Van Binh, head of the Preventive Health Department at the ministry, said the ministry in the coming time will enhance cooperation with concerned agencies to better inform the public with the disease and educate them with ways to protect themselves.
Binh also promised to order pharmaceutical firms to import medicine for curing the disease and will supply adequate medicine to each locality.
Vietnam so far does not have the medicine to treat the disease and doctors have so far only tried to cure concerned symptoms.