VOV.VN - As tuberculosis remains a key health priority in Vietnam, even during the times of COVID-19, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has developed an innovative way to integrate testing and care for both infectious diseases.
Integrated tuberculosis (TB) screening is endorsed by the National TB Program, and with USAID assistance, Vietnam first deployed this integrated approach at COVID-19 vaccination sites in Hanoi last month with plans to expand it to Tien Giang and Can Tho provinces as well.
At a COVID-19 vaccination event on November 3, community members from District 6 received their COVID-19 vaccine and all of those who were 55 years or older were provided with a free chest X-ray taken on an ultra-portable, hand-held X-ray device that detects signs of TB.
After laboratory analysis all patients will receive their test results over the next three days and be referred to appropriate treatment if needed. The service is supported by USAID’s Erase TB project, a US$2 million, three-year initiative to increase TB detection and access to care in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
The integrated screenings are in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital, the District 6 People’s Committee, and local health workers.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges in detecting and treating TB, USAID’s Erase TB project is showing that there are also new opportunities to provide integrated health screening services and to preserve the progress Vietnam has made in the fight to end TB,” said US Acting Consul General Robert Greenan while coming to observe the integration of TB screening with the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign at Commune Health Station of Ward 5 in District 6.
USAID’s Erase TB project is responding to the dual pandemics of TB and COVID-19 through a unique model of integrating TB screening with COVID-19 vaccinations. Through USAID support, Vietnam is one of a few countries integrating TB and COVID-19 approaches and the Government of Vietnam leadership is finding existing opportunities in the fight against COVID-19 for TB screening that can be replicated and shared globally as a best practice.
TB is both preventable and curable, but every year 170,000 people in Vietnam develop TB and more than 11,000 people die from the disease, putting Vietnam among the top 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world. The impacts of COVID-19 have severely reduced TB care and services, and during the most recent COVID outbreak, TB detection in Vietnam decreased by 80% between June and September.