Viet Nam on track to End TB
Viet Nam Health Minister Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến joined Head of States, Ministers and other leaders at the first-ever United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB on 26th September at the 2018 General Assembly in New York. She delivered a powerful statement of commitment to action during the plenary, and at a media briefing on the High Level Meeting.
“Viet Nam will do its best to achieve reductions in mortality and morbidity, by introducing new tools, new drugs, new approaches with high political commitment and by strengthening the health system, especially at the grassroots level, through universal health coverage.”
Madame Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến, Health Minister of Viet Nam
“Viet Nam warmly congratulates the United Nations for holding a successful High Level Meeting on ending TB,” said Madame Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến, Health Minister of Viet Nam while speaking to journalists at the UN. “This event has great significance, while ambitious with its Declaration, it leads the way for a very humanitarian fight because it can save millions of lives and bring happiness for millions of families worldwide every year. Viet Nam will do its best to achieve reductions in mortality and morbidity, by introducing new tools, new drugs, new approaches with high political commitment and by strengthening the health system, especially at the grassroots level, through universal health coverage. We will also work towards mobilizing all the social resources needed for the fight against TB.”
Tuberculosis is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in Viet Nam with 124 000 cases and over 12,000 deaths in 2017. However, through greater attention and the bolstering of strategic and management efforts, Viet Nam has strengthened its system of TB diagnosis and care, achieving 82% treatment coverage of those infected in 2017, closing in on its target of 90% by 2022.
The high-level presence of Viet Nam at the UN High Level Meeting follows a recent mission to Hanoi where a delegation from across WHO offices at the country, regional and headquarters level met Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, Ms Nguyễn Vũ Hà Lê, Director of International Cooperation, Office of the President and Minister of Health Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến. The Delegation was led by Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme.
“The level of political commitment in the country is very high, resulting in tremendous strides forward in the national TB response,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “I was very impressed with the commitment of the Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister to raise the profile of efforts to end TB in the country. They proposed that the high-level commission for prevention and control of HIVAIDS, drugs and prostitution in the country be revitalized into a joint TB, HIV/AIDS, multisectoral commission under aegis of the Prime Minister. This is precisely the type of move that will keep TB high on the national agenda and accelerate progress.”
Visiting the National Lung Hospital and TB Reference Laboratory, Hanoi Lung Hospital, Thanh Tri district health center and other hospitals and health centres, the delegation praised the dedication of the national TB programme and its progress in maintaining high treatment rates.
“Viet Nam is a pathfinder of End TB efforts globally,” said Dr KiDong Park, WHO Representative Viet Nam. “I would like to express my appreciation to the national TB programme which has been instrumental in driving the End TB agenda forward. While great strides have been made in combatting TB, the country needs to step up its efforts to tackle drug-resistant TB”.
Despite Viet Nam’s pioneering role in introducing innovative approaches, and in the diagnosis and treatment of patients over the past few years, less than half the number of people with drug resistant TB are currently on treatment. Strengthening the diagnostic network and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) management capacity in the country at all levels is a priority.
Spearheading Research efforts in the Region
Meetings with the Minister of Health Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến overviewed the TB response in the country and focused on the possibility of Viet Nam setting up a Regional TB Research network along the lines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) research network.
“Viet Nam’s leadership in pioneering national TB research network ‘VICTORY’ is truly impressive,” said Dr Tauhid Islam, Coordinator, End TB and Leprosy, WPRO. “We would like Viet Nam to take the next step and set up a Regional TB Research network along the lines of the BRICS research network.”
Rising political momentum
Viet Nam is one of the first countries to commit to joining the Find.Treat.All. #EndTB (http://www.who.int/tb/joint-initiative/en/) Initiative to reach 40 million people with care globally, and WHO is helping to develop a country specific target for Viet Nam. This initiative will drive action to close gaps in prevention and care.
The Health Minister’s participation in the UN High Level Meeting on TB reflects Viet Nam government’s high-level commitment and elevates the status of the country as role model for the rest of world.