Managing the burden of diabetes in Viet Nam
HANOI, 14 November 2012 - Diabetes, like many other chronic diseases is on the rise in Viet Nam. Experts believe that there are currently at least two million people living with diabetes in Viet Nam, though approximately 60% of these remain undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.
Untreated, diabetes can result in life threatening complications such as blindness, severe nerve damage (resulting in infections and amputations) and cardiovascular diseases (strokes, heart attack).
WHO global burden of disease estimates indicate approximately, 17,000 deaths in Viet Nam due to complications from diabetes in 2008.
Twenty years ago, diabetes was prevalent in 1 to 2 percent of the population of Viet Nam’s major cities of Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, but by 2002 had risen to 4-5% of the population. More recent data from Ho Chi Minh City suggests that in 2008, close to 7% of adults aged 30-69 had diabetes. Changing dietary and lifestyle habits that favor high fat and sugar foods and less physical exercise are one of the major contributors to this rapid and very alarming increase.
WHO's response to diabetes in Viet Nam
In an effort to diagnose and treat more people who have diabetes but may not be aware of their condition, WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to make chronic disease diagnosis and management services more readily available at the primary health care network, especially at commune health stations. Since 2010 WHO and the Hoi An Foundation have implemented a pilot programme in Viet Tri City Phu Tho Province.
The first stage of the pilot focused on capacity building for nearly 100 health care workers in 23 Commune Health Stations and the City Health Center in Viet Tri City to diagnose and manage diabetes and hypertension.
More than 600 patients have used the communal health centers in Viet Tri city in the first stage of the pilot programme and preliminary evaluation results show that 68% of diabetic patients under management have normalized and stabilized their previously elevated blood glucose levels. The programme is also very cost efficient with the average cost of medication only USD 2 per month per patient.
WHO continues to work with the Ministry of Health to push forward policies and regulations that make the management of hypertension and diabetes part of routine health care provision at the communal level. “There is an urgent need to provide diagnosis and management of diabetes and hypertension at the communal level where people can access these simple yet life saving services more easily and cost effectively, said WHO Representative Dr. Takeshi Kasai. “WHO will continue to work to increase demand for such services through social marketing campaigns to raise public awareness about how to prevent diabetes and hypertension. WHO also promotes multisectoral action for prevention of diabetes, hypertension as well as other non-communicable diseases”
The life of Ha Thi Thom, a diabetic patient in Viet Nam
Ha Thi Thom is 54 years old and lives in Nong Trang commune. Four years ago she was diagnosed with diabetes during a regular check-up for high blood pressure at the Phu Tho provincial general hospital. At the time, she had a very poor understanding of the disease, not knowing where to seek more information about how to manage her diabetes.
Once a month Mrs. Thom traveled four kilometers to the provincial hospital and waited in long lines for her regular check-up to receive her medication. Usually each time a different doctor treated her and prescribed different doses of medication. The process took nearly a full day and there were times when Ms. Thom missed her monthly check-ups because of other engagements. Her condition did not improve.
When the community health center in Nong Trang commune became a pilot centre for diabetes and hypertension management, Ms. Thom began to receive her regular check-ups there. The community health centre is located within walking distance to her home and because of a lower patient load, it took less than one hour to complete Ms. Thom’s monthly check-up. Most importantly, Ms. Thom was able to consult the same doctor who provided her with valuable guidance on diabetes management, medication, diet and physical activity.
“Ever since I moved my regular check-ups to the communal health center, I am better able to manage my diabetes and hypertension. My blood pressure and glucose levels are now back to normal and I have a better understanding of how to take my medication, to eat better and to exercise regularly,” said Ms. Thom.
For more information, please contact
Ms. Phung Thi Thu Phuong
Tel: 84-4-943 3734/5/6 (ext. 83886)
Mobile: 84-915 413 814