U.S. supports Viet Nam in introducing integration of Tuberculosis screening into COVID vaccination sites in HCM City

November 04, 2021 10:24 AM GMT+7

VGP - U.S. Acting Consul General Robert Greenan on November 3 observed the integration of tuberculosis (TB) screening with the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Commune Health Station of Ward 5 in District 6, HCM City.

Integrated TB screening is endorsed by the National TB Program, and with USAID assistance, Viet Nam first deployed this integrated approach at COVID-19 vaccination sites in Ha Noi last month with plans to expand it to Tien Giang and Can Tho provinces as well.

At today’s COVID-19 vaccination event, community members from District 6 received their COVID-19 vaccine and all of those who were 55 years or older were provided with a free chest X-ray taken on an ultra-portable, hand-held X-ray device that detects signs of TB.

After laboratory analysis all patients will receive their test results over the next three days and be referred to appropriate treatment if needed. This service is supported by USAID’s Erase TB project, a US$2 million, three-year initiative to increase TB detection and access to care in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi.

The integrated screenings are in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital, the District 6 People’s Committee, and local health workers. 

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges in detecting and treating TB, USAID’s Erase TB project is showing that there are also new opportunities to provide integrated health screening services and to preserve the progress Viet Nam has made in the fight to end TB,” remarked Greenan during the visit.

USAID’s Erase TB project is responding to the dual pandemics of TB and COVID-19 through a unique model of integrating TB screening with COVID-19 vaccinations. Through USAID support, Viet Nam is one of a few countries integrating TB and COVID-19 approaches and the Government of Viet Nam leadership is finding existing opportunities in the fight against COVID-19 for TB screening that can be replicated and shared globally as a best practice. 

Tuberculosis remains a key health priority in Viet Nam, even during the times of COVID-19. The USAID has developed an innovative way to integrate testing and care for both infectious diseases.

TB is both preventable and curable, but every year in Viet Nam 170,000 people develop TB and more than 11,000 people die from TB, putting Viet Nam among the top 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world. The impacts of COVID-19 have severely reduced TB care and services, and during the most recent COVID outbreak, TB detection in Viet Nam decreased by 80 percent between June and September.

By Hoang Ha