Vietnam reports first death from recent cholera outbreak

A dog meat vendor weighs produce at his shop in Hanoi

A dog meat vendor weighs produce at his shop in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam has recorded its first cholera death during an outbreak that has spread to 11 out of 63 provinces and cities across the communist nation, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old victim from northern Ninh Binh province died on May 12 a few hours after hospitalisation, said a Ministry of Health website report.

The victim was an alcoholic who tested positive for vibrio cholera bacteria. He had diarrhoea and serious dehydration, the ministry said.

It added that a total of 53 patients have been confirmed with cholera since April 20, while more than 500 others had acute diarrhoea.

In March and April last year the country battled cholera outbreaks which hit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 16 other provinces. More than 100 people were infected but no fatalities were reported.

Vietnam has a long standing problem with food safety and hygiene.

Authorities in Hanoi have temporarily closed at least a dozen dog slaughterhouses — where the popular meat is prepared — over fears their unhygienic conditions may help spread cholera bacteria to people, an official said Monday.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholera. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says cholera can be easily avoided through good hygiene, especially by washing hands with soap after using the toilet.

The WHO on Tuesday referred to a 2006 survey of rural sanitation that found only 12 percent of people washed their hands before eating, 15.5 percent washed after urinating, and 16.9 percent cleaned their hands after defecating. The survey was carried out by Vietnam’s Department of Preventative Medicine and Environment.

Bacteria from the faeces of a contaminated person are one of the main sources of cholera contamination, the WHO says.

As part of its joining the World Trade Organization two years ago, Vietnam’s food safety needs to adapt to international standards, WHO said.

“Coordination of activities to ensure safe practices into the entire food chain is a challenging task for Vietnam’s government,” it said.

Vietnam dog slaughterhouses shut on health fears

A dog slaughterhouse is seen in Hanoi

A dog slaughterhouse is seen in Hanoi

May 18, 2009

HANOI (AFP) — Authorities in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi have temporarily closed at least a dozen dog slaughterhouses on fears their unclean conditions may help spread cholera bacteria to people, an official said Monday.

Dog meat is a popular dish in Vietnam.

It was unclear when the slaughterhouses in Hanoi’s suburban Duong Noi would be allowed to resume operations, local official Nguyen Thi Thuc told AFP, without providing more details.

The health ministry said on its website that cholera bacteria had been found in the slaughterhouses.

Cholera is spread through unsafe food.

Eight northern cities and provinces are presently hit by outbreaks of acute diarrhoea, including hundreds of cases of suspected cholera, officials and press reports said.

Communist Vietnam has a longstanding problem with food safety and hygiene.

In March and April last year the country battled cholera outbreaks which hit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 16 other provinces. More than 100 people were infected but no fatalities were reported.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholera. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

Vietnam holds flu drill

HANOI – THE airport in Vietnam’s capital has held an emergency H1N1 flu exercise, isolating 10 ‘suspected cases’ of people carrying the virus, state media said on Monday.

The simulation involved a mock flight from an ‘infected’ country with 160 passengers aboard at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport, the Vietnam News said.

Ten of the passengers with a pretend high fever, some of whom also had other ‘symptoms,’ were taken to hospital. The remaining passengers were isolated and placed under supervision, while the plane was fumigated as part of the simulation, the report said.

To guard against swine flu, authorities have been monitoring passengers arriving at Noi Bai.

South Korean health officials said on Monday that a Vietnamese national in transit had been quarantined at a South Korean airport after showing swine flu symptoms.

A health ministry spokesman said she was returning home after a trip to the United States.

Nearly 8,500 people in 39 countries have been infected with swine flu, according to the latest World Health Organisation figures.

Authorities say communist Vietnam, which has the world’s second-highest death toll from bird flu, remains free of the A(H1N1) virus. — AFP

Vietnam Faces Great Challenges In Healthcare System

HANOI, April 16 (Bernama) — Vietnam faces great challenges in achieving universal health insurance by 2014, the Vietnam news agency (VNA) quoted Health Minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu as saying.

At a conference co-organised by the World Bank recently, the minister said that the health insurance system in the country was still underdeveloped with only 44 per cent of the population having health insurance.

“The goal of expanding health insurance to the whole population will be impossible without a comprehensive and overall method,” he said.

Health insurance was first introduced in the country over 15 years ago, and the rate of the population with insurance has increased steadily over the years.

There are various types of health insurance in Vietnam, such as compulsory insurance, voluntary insurance, insurance for poor people.

Increases in the number of health care centres and range of health services for communities has also contributed to the development and popularisation of health care and health insurance.

However, there are a variety of reasons and obstacles that have limited the expansion of health insurance usage to the whole population.

Many business and enterprises have not bought health insurance for their workers, despite Government regulations making it compulsory.

There are also problems in the implementation of health insurance due to inconsistencies and lack of comprehensive guiding documents, especially when it comes to hospital fee policies or the organisation of local health care systems.

Despite greater access to care in many areas, the availability of health care services is also still limited in remote and rural areas, which means fewer health insurance users in those areas.

According to a 2008 World Bank report on Financing and Supplying Health Services in Viet Nam, the country’s health insurance system is facing three main challenges: expanding the usage to wider population, developing the services to reduce the people’s own expenses and cutting down other expenses.

On the new hope factor, the Health Minister said that the National Assembly approved a new Law on Health Insurance last November.

The new Health Law would help develop the health insurance system to help finance the health care system and also bring more benefits to the people.

The new law stipulates that health insurance will become compulsory for everyone by 2014, but that there will be different policies for different groups.

There are 25 different categories for people depending on their income levels, and various amounts will be paid for the insurance.

The amount people will have to pay for health insurance each month is 6 per cent of their wages, which is double what was stipulated previously.

The national budget will pay wholly or partially the health insurance fees for the poor and underprivileged.

Services covered by health insurance are also to increase as available funds increase. The country’s health care service system also needs to be more developed and expanded to meet with the people’s demand.

In the Politburo’s recent health review, it was suggested that the Government promote the establishment of private and co-operative hospitals and health care centres, and to continue support and investments into State-owned facilities.

This would help increase options available when healthcare needs arise.

Trieu said the Ministry of Health was currently working with relevant agencies to publish guiding documents in order to effectively implement the new law, as well as finding ways to encourage more people to buy health insurance.


Vietnam declares bird flu emergency

HANOI, Vietnam, Feb. 11 (UPI) — The government of Vietnam has announced emergency measures to prevent the spread of a bird flu epidemic from poultry to humans.

Thousands of infected birds have been culled since Type A bird flu was discovered in seven provinces, the Vietnam news service VNS reported Wednesday.

The latest province to suffer an outbreak is Bach Ninh where more than 100 ducks found dead on two farms tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered all government offices and relevant agencies to see that strict prevention measures are implemented to keep the disease from being transmitted to humans.

He also asked that research into development of a vaccine against the H5N1 strain of the virus be accelerated.

Nine arrested in Vietnam for preventing chicken cull

Vietnamese police said yesterday they had arrested nine people for trying to stop chickens being taken as part of a cull aimed at preventing the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The nine were arrested Saturday, a Hanoi police source said, without elaborating.

State media said about 100 residents of the capital’s Thuong Tin district had run away with about two thirds of the 1,500 chickens that authorities were intending to cull on Thursday.

Ten animal health and market management officials at the site were unable to prevent members of a crowd from grabbing the chickens and then running away, news website VietnamNet reported.

State-run Vietnam Television said yesterday city authorities had asked the relevant agencies to take measures to prevent any repetition.

Bird flu, which was first recorded in Vietnam in 2003, is now present in five provinces, mostly in the Mekong river delta, according to the national animal health department.

The communist nation’s preventive health office confirmed yesterday a 23-year-old woman had been infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu and had been admitted to hospital in Quang Ninh province on the Chinese border.

The first human case this year reported in Vietnam was an eight-year-old girl from northern Thanh Hoa province who subsequently recovered.

Her 13-year-old sister, who died in hospital earlier, was never tested for H5N1, health officials said.

Vietnam has the the world’s second highest tally of human fatalities from bird flu, with 52 lives lost. Indonesia leads the list with 115 victims.

Bird flu hits five provinces in Vietnam

Hanoi – An outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu virus has spread to four provinces in southern Vietnam and one in the centre of the country, a government official said Monday.

Hoang Van Nam, deputy head of Vietnam’s Animal Health Department, said thousands of fowl had been infected in the Mekong Delta provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang and Hau Giang.

A further outbreak was reported on a farm in the province of Nghe An in central Vietnam.

On one farm in Hau Giang province, 400 ducks found infected with the virus had not been vaccinated. Other cases involved ducks which had been vaccinated but contracted the disease before they had a chance to develop immunity.

Nam said despite government warnings, farmers were not strictly obeying regulations on preventing the spread of bird flu. He said some were throwing dead ducks in canals and rivers where their germs were likely to spread.

Vietnam Television reported Sunday that outside Hanoi on February 5, several dozen people resisted authorities who tried to destroy a truckload of live chickens that lacked quarantine certificates.

As animal health officials tossed the chickens into a pit, preparing to bury them, dozens of locals jumped into the hole and rushed away with the animals. Just 300 of the 1,500 chickens were destroyed.

Meanwhile, a doctor confirmed Monday Vietnam’s second human case of bird flu this year.

The 23-year-old woman has been hospitalized since February 3 at Quang Ninh general hospital, 150 kilometres west of Hanoi, after eating the meat of a sick chicken.

‘We are not sure if the patient can survive,’ said Dr Tran Thanh Nga, one of the doctors assigned to the case.

Vietnam’s first confirmed human case of bird flu this year was a 13-year-old girl from Thanh Hoa province, 150 kilometers south of Hanoi. The girl’s older sister died on January 2 after displaying symptoms consistent with bird flu, but was not tested for the virus.

Avian influenza has infected 106 people in Vietnam and killed 52 since it first appeared in the country in late 2003.

The disease is usually spread by contact between sick birds and humans, but scientists fear that the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible among humans and spark a global pandemic that could kill millions.