Vietnam moving towards ending tuberculosis by 2030

After reducing its ranking from 12th to 16th in terms of the number of people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) in the last five years, Vietnam is gathering nearly enough elements to end the disease by 2030.

Doctors from the National Lung Hospital provide free medical examinations and treatment for local people in Vinh Tuong district in the northern province of Vinh Phuc. (Photo: NDO/Minh Hoang)
Doctors from the National Lung Hospital provide free medical examinations and treatment for local people in Vinh Tuong district in the northern province of Vinh Phuc. (Photo: NDO/Minh Hoang)

Associate Professor, Dr. Nguyen Viet Nhung, Director of the National Lung Hospital, said that compared to the estimate in 2015, the number of TB infections decreased by 4,000 and the number of deaths due to TB was reduced by 4,000. Multidrug-resistant TB cases are estimated at 4,900 people - significantly reduced from 5,200 cases in 2015. TB combined with HIV infected cases has also decreased from 7% to 3% among the detected TB patients.

In the past 10 years, based on a national survey and auxiliary studies in 2017, TB in Vietnam has decreased by 31%, thus reducing by an average of 3.8% per year. In recent years, the rate of TB infection decline has been faster, especially after the Prime Minister promulgated the National Strategy for TB Prevention and Control by 2020, with a vision to 2030.

Currently, Vietnam has also mastered the techniques of TB detection, diagnosis and treatment with high results, along with building a strong network system from central to local levels.

"This shows that the direction of Vietnam is completely correct, helping the country to continue to be a model for other nations with high TB burdens to follow in implementing the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s strategy to stop TB," said Dr. Nhung.

On September 26, 2018, for the first time in history, the United Nations General Assembly decided to hold the first-ever high-level meeting on the fight against TB, with strong commitments from the leaders of the member countries. At the event, Vietnam also made a commitment to end TB by 2030.

Vietnam is considered a pioneer and a successful model to implement a global TB termination strategy. The WHO has recognised that Vietnam is on its way to end the disease.

In response to the World Tuberculosis Day observed on March 24 each year, this year’s event in Vietnam will be held under the theme of "It's time to act to stop TB in Vietnam by 2030". Vietnam has set a goal of ending TB by 2030, that is, with a population of 100 million, the whole country should only have 1,000 people suffering from TB a year.

However, it is estimated that Vietnam still has 124,000 newly detected TB cases each year. It is still among 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world, ranking 16th in the number of people with TB and 15th in terms of the burden of multi-drug resistant TB. In particular, 64% of TB patients and 98% of TB-resistant patients bear the burden of catastrophic healthcare spending, ie, spending more than 20% of the income of the whole family in a year due to TB.

“70% of people with TB are at working age. Therefore, TB is really a problem affecting the economy of each family in particular and the whole country in general. Investing in the termination of TB is an investment in sustainable development,” affirmed Dr. Nhung.

To move towards the end of TB in 2030, the biggest challenge for the National TB Programme today is to sustain all of the current favourable conditions and achievements it has obtained up to 2030. It is necessary to institutionalise the Party’s resolution and the Government's strategy with legal documents.

Another extremely important factor is the participation and response of the whole community in actively participating in seeking TB examination and treatment services, while overcoming all barriers from patients, doctors and the whole society in TB treatment.