Discussing the issue, Vien Chinh Chien, director of the Central Highlands Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said diphtheria cases had been detected spreading around the Central Highlands since 2013, initially in K’Bang and Gia Lai before hitting other localities.
After seven years, 90% of the local people infected by diphtheria were from ethnic minorities groups due to the population having less access to immunisation. With regard to cases by age, more than 90% of infected people are were older than seven.
In relation to potential measures to slow the spread of diphtheria, Chien emphasised three key steps. The first being for grassroots health workers to be trained to become fully aware of the disease.
This is because early detection of the disease is imperative to quickly sending samples for testing in order to handle the outbreak in a swift, timely, and efficient manner, thereby contributing to preventing the risk of the disease spreading among the wider community.
Moreover, the second step is to perform a thorough epidemiological investigation once a case is discovered. Finally, the third step is to use a vaccine with local health facilities being active in implementing and expanded vaccination schemes in an effort to ensure that over 90% of local people are vaccinated in accordance with guidance from the Ministry of Health.