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Vietnam acts to erase maternal transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis

The Department of Maternal and Child Health under the Ministry of Health (MoH) held a workshop in the central city of Da Nang on March 19  to launch a national action plan on the eradication of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis in the 2018-2030 period.

The event was participated by leaders of the health departments of central provinces and cities from Nghe An to Phu Yen.

Director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health Nguyen Duc Vinh said mother-to-child transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis caused negative impacts on mother and children health. Especially in remote, mountainous and border regions and islands, limited access to medical services hinders the eradication of those diseases, he said.

Vinh proposed participants map out action plans at the provincial level and mention current difficulties and solutions to carry out the national action plan in respective localities in the time ahead.

The Department of Maternal and Child Health noted that Vietnam has an average of nearly 2 million pregnant women each year, with the HIV infection rate in pregnant women standing at 0.19 percent. As a result, up to 1,520 babies are born with HIV annually as without intervention, the mother-to-child transmission rate could reach about 40 percent.

The rate of hepatitis B infection in pregnant women in Vietnam is relatively high, ranging from 9.5 percent to 13 percent. Hence, women are advised to take a test for the hepatitis B virus before pregnancy and re-take the test when they are expecting if necessary.

Meanwhile, the number of infants born with syphilis has also shown signs of increasing. However, only less than 16 percent of expectant mothers take screening tests for syphilis.

The MoH has instructed the Department of Maternal and Child Health to devise an annual plan to guide, supervise and coordinate the plan’s activities, as well as provide technical assistance on the prevention of those diseases in medical examination and treatment system in obstetrics and paediatrics.

In addition, refresher courses will be held regularly to update knowledge and improve skills for healthcare workers.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that in the Western Pacific region, about 180,000 children are infected with the hepatitis B virus annually, while 13,000 and 1,400 others are diagnosed with syphilis and HIV infections, respectively.

The WHO Western Pacific Region have devised a planning framework to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis in the 2018-2030 period, part of a bid to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's, and Adolescents' Health 2016-2030. In addition, the WHO advised members to build respective national action plans on the triple elimination of those diseases in 2030.