In a follow-up on the diphtheria outbreak in Vietnam, according to a report by the Department of Health, in the four Central Highlands provinces: Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai and Kom Tum, as of July 22, 2020, four provinces have recorded 114 cases of diphtheria in 34 communes, belonging to 14 districts.

Image/Robert Herriman

Three deaths have been recorded,  of which two were in Ca Mau and Gia Lai.

From June 6 to July 17, the health sector reported 16 outbreaks of diphtheria in Dak Nong, Kon Tum, Gia Lai and Dak Lak whereas 23 cases of diphtheria were reported last year without deaths.

Since the discovery of the first case of diphtheria in Dak Nong province, the Central Highlands Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Kon Tum and Gia provinces. Lai investigated, handled the epidemic, identified risk factors to provide effective long-term epidemic prevention and control solutions.

Health sector in the Central Highlands provinces have raised a number of difficulties in the prevention, examination and treatment of diphtheria almost: Diphtheria mainly occurs in ethnic minority, deep-lying and remote areas.

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Meanwhile, propaganda and vaccination in this area is very difficult because many ethnic minorities do not know the common language; Many ethnic minority households have different viewpoints on prevention and fighting against epidemic diseases, so they refuse to take their children for vaccinations against diphtheria.

In addition, all provinces lack medicine to treat diphtheria patients. Health facilities, especially district health facilities, lack equipment, machines for examination and treatment for diphtheria patients. Isolation treatment for diphtheria patients at medical facilities but not knowing how to use funding for treatment and meals for patients and their families during isolation.