NCDs kill 380,000 people in Vietnam a year, equivalent to 73 percent of all deaths annually with 40 percent dying before the age of 70, higher than the regional average of 17.1 percent, according to the World Health Organisation.
It is also estimated that about 12 million Vietnamese people have high blood pressure, while nearly three million people have diabetes, two million have chronic heart and lung problems and nearly 120,000 fresh cancer cases are reported annually.
Many of the risk factors for NCDs are due to unhealthy lifestyles including physical inactivity and alcohol and tobacco abuse.
“Denmark is ready to assist Vietnam in the prevention and control of NCDs,” Minister of Health of Denmark Ellen Trane Nørby said while she met with Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc during her recent Hanoi visit. She noted that Denmark was very interested in NCDs prevention and control in cooperation with Vietnam.
At a Hanoi meeting discussing non-communicable disease prevention held on April 10, the minister said Vietnam and Denmark are both pursuing healthcare reforms to strengthen the primary healthcare system as one of the key components in fighting chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
“This is also an area of direct bilateral cooperation between the two ministries of health,” she said. “The two ministries have worked together very well.”
In September, 2016, the health ministries of Vietnam and Denmark inked a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in healthcare, providing a foundation for the launch of a cooperation project on NCDs prevention and management at primary level in 2016-2018 in northern Thai Binh province dealing with diabetes and hypertension.
Under the project, 30 commune health stations in four districts were selected and after an extensive evaluation, the training of the healthcare workers will begin in mid-April. The first set of materials have been crafted to provide a new approach to patient-centred prevention and care of diabetes and hypertension.
The goal of the pilot project in Thai Binh is to expand healthcare services at commune health stations to include more prevention of NCDs, earlier detection of NCDs and basic management of patients.
Besides diabetes and hypertension, the project is expected to expand to other disease groups.
Under the ministries’ cooperation, during the next two years from 2018, national guidelines and tools for prevention, early detection and treatment of selected NCDs are expected to be developed.
Best practices and ideas will be gathered for the development of new guidelines, implementation manuals, communication materials and other tools for frontline healthcare workers to prevent, detect and treat NCDs.