Lack of skilled doctors to tackle HFMD pandemic

In the first three months of the year, the country reported 21,295 infected cases of hand-foot-mouth disease and 17 child deaths due to lack of skilled doctors, said Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

Many HFM infected children suffer serious complication (Photo: SGGP)

Speaking at a conference to discuss measures to minimise hand-foot-mouth disease deaths, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien warned that the pandemic was more serious than last year. She asked health units to strengthen measures against the disease that has spread to all 63 provinces and cities of the country.

Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, deputy chief of the Preventive Health Department said at the conference, that the southern provinces are battling with the disease and all efforts seem to fail. Deaths from the disease have been reported including four in An Giang, and two each in HCMC, Dong Thap, Dong Nai and Can Tho.

Ten of the most highly infected provinces include the northern provinces of Hai Phong, Lao Cai, Vinh Phu, Hoa Binh; the central provinces of Da Nang, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa; and southern provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Hau Giang.

In the southern hub, the Mekong delta province of An Giang had the highest ratio of 451 infected child cases with four deaths, in the first three months of the year. A health official from An Giang Province is concerned that on one hand it is hard to diagnose the disease, and on the other hand medics have a low degree of skills to tackle a pandemic.

Most worrisome are signs that the disease is showing no likelihood of abating. Among 153 children that died from HFMD last year, 81 per cent were under 3 years of age, reported Dr. Nguyen Minh Tien, deputy head of the intensive care unit of the Pediatrics Hospital 1 in HCMC.

Of the total number of deaths, 40 had been wrongly diagnosed by doctors who mistook HFMD for other disease, such as pneumonia, dengue fever, meningitis, Tien said. Moreover, 24 kids died due to unsafe transfer procedures from one hospital to another.

At the conference, concern was raised at the hundreds of young lives claimed by the disease, low skills of doctors and shortage of facilities. Ventilators are needed for treatment of HFMD, but district hospitals, even province counterparts, don’t have any such machines.
In order to restrain the spread of the disease, hospitals must boost training for doctors, nurses and other health workers, improve their professional skills and enhance treatment quality, health minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said.

The minister ordered big hospitals including all National Children Hospitals and Tropical Diseases Hospitals in Hanoi and HCMC, to provide diagnosis training of the disease to provincial counterparts.

By Tuong Lam - Translated by Anh Quan

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