Vietnam takes urgent measures to control acute diarrhea

HANOI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) — Vietnam has taken drastic measures, including monitoring food safety, ensuring environmental hygiene and intensifying propaganda on acute diarrhea, to eliminate the disease which has infected 1,713 people in 14 out of 64 its cities and provinces since Oct. 23.

    Of the infection cases, 226 people, including three foreigners from the Philippines, Belgium, and Japan, have been initially tested positive to cholera virus, according to the Vietnamese Health Ministry.

    “If measures to ensure food safety, environmental hygiene and patient management are not well taken, the acute diarrhea outbreaks will become more serious, and fatality rate will be high,” said Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan.

    To eliminate the disease, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the ministry to lead a multi-sector task force in taking firm and immediate measures to improve food hygiene.

    He has asked local relevant agencies and people to focus on disinfecting water for domestic use, inspecting food safety in markets and restaurants, eating cooked food, drinking boiled water, washing hands with soap, and suspending the use of unsafe foodstuff such as raw shrimp paste, seafood salad, and raw-blood pudding, which are thought to be sources of the disease.

    Besides, an anti-acute diarrhea steering committee set up by the Health Ministry has conducted an overall food inspection in northern provinces, which have been most severely hit by the disease.

    The ministry has required the central provinces of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An, which often provide raw shrimp paste to northern localities, to stop transporting the foodstuff, and distributed some 200,000 free disposable glovers to food sellers in 11 affected localities. It has planned to continue the distribution in high-risk provinces, including flood-stricken ones.

    In addition to strengthening the monitoring of the food safety, Vietnam has focused on fostering surveillance on the disease, and keeping environmental hygiene.

    Chairpersons of provincial People’s Committees will have to take responsibilities if the disease spreads in their localities, according to a message issued by the government recently.

    The prime minister has directed to set up working delegations led by cabinet members to inspect anti-acute diarrhea activities, especially in flood-hit localities in the northern and central regions. Next week, the eight delegations will go on business.

    Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has planned to improve surveillance on the disease at border gates, train and bus stations. It is scheduled to establish surveillance forces to detect people having symptoms of acute diarrhea at the spots, and encourage them to stop their trip and come to hospitals for checks-up.

    The ministry has also paid due attention to disinfecting areas housing patients, ensuring sources of clean water for domestic use, and conducting safe disposal treatment.

    Regarding propaganda on acute diarrhea, the prime minister has assigned the Health Ministry to disseminate treatment guidelines to hospitals and infirmaries, and cooperate with the Ministry of Information and Communication in publicizing instruction on the disease prevention.

    Local authorities have distributed leaflets and informed on loudspeakers about the disease situation and prevention ways, and established hot lines to receive information about new outbreaks from citizens.

    Besides, the country has provided free treatment to acute diarrhea patients, and called for assistances from international organizations in controlling the disease. The Health Ministry has asked the World Health Organization to help it find out how long the cholera virus can survive in the environmental conditions in Vietnam.

    Ignoring the relevant agencies’ warnings about the disease, some local people kept their unhygienic eating habits. It is not difficult to catch a sight of dozens of people sitting in tiny plastic stools just meters from the sidewalks eating their favorite noodle with non-quarantined fowl meat and raw vegetables, despite of smoke and dust from hundreds of vehicles in a crowded street.

    “I know that it is not safe when eating in such restaurants, especially in the times of disease outbreaks as now. But, I have no other choices. It is suitable to most of students like me,” said Nguyen Thu Ha, 20, from the Hanoi Economics University.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

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