VietNamNet Bridge - Doctors warn that the number of tuberculosis patients resistant to drugs is on the increase in HCM City.
Director of the Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases Nguyen Huy Dung said the number of TB patients in the city had doubled from 8,000 to 15,000 in the past 10 years.
On average, the number of patients increases by about 2 per cent a year. Most patients are between 25-54 years old.
Hospital statistics show that TB patients and thousands more with lung and bronchial diseases are making life a burden for the medical sector.
Dung said that every year, about 14,000-15,000 more patients attended TB control programmes in the city. About 8,000 were new patients.
Last year, more than half of the 100,000 people – or nearly 1 per cent of the city's population – who went to the TB hospital for health checks were found to have various levels of the disease. About 1,100 of them were resistant to drugs, including about 200 patients who cannot be treated with them.
There are a total of about 700 chronic tuberculosis patients who are resistant to most drugs. Only about 50 per cent can be cured.
Phan Thuong Dat, a doctor of the hospital, said that treating these patients was as difficult as treating patients 50 years ago when there were few antibiotics.
Dung said the main reason for the increased number of TB patients resistant to drugs was the low awareness.
After treatment for two months many patients refused to take more drugs because they were feeling healthier, but the correct treatment period is about eight months.
Another reason for the increase in TB patients was the cost of treatment was nearly VND10 million (US$500) in eight months, so many patients could not afford a complete course.
"Patients joining the national tuberculosis control and prevention programme are exempted from paying for the five main drugs, but they still have to buy a number of restorative and other drugs," said Dung.
"Besides, doctors at private hospitals write prescriptions for tuberculosis patients although they do not specialise in the disease," he said.
Dung said that this year the medical sector would join hands with municipal police to supervise the work of private hospitals.