4th Union Asia Pacific Conference on Lung Health opens in Hanoi

Hoang Ha (photo: CNS)
Bobby Ramakant - CNS
Hoang Ha, Secretary to the 4th Union Asia Pacific Region Conference on Lung Health (APRC 2013) which opened today in Hanoi, Viet Nam, told Citizen News Service – CNS that APRC 2013 will address key issues related to lung health such as tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB, tobacco control, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, acute respiratory infections (ARIs), diabetes and TB, childhood TB, research and development for new TB vaccines, diagnostics and drugs, TB-HIV co-infection, among others. Hoang Ha said to CNS that APRC 2013 is on the theme of “Optimal use of new technology and approach” and is organized by the Viet Nam Association against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (VATLD) and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) from 10-13 April 2013. It brings together more than a 1000 stakeholders in lung health from 32 countries.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year in Vietnam 150,000 people get TB disease, including up to 5,000 people with drug-resistant TB.  Vietnam is ranked 12th on the WHO list of the 22 countries with the highest TB burdens. The spread of HIV in some provinces may account for an increase of TB cases seen in persons 15 to 34 years of age. Currently, the WHO estimates that there are 7500 new HIV-TB co-infected cases per year. 

To combat this public health threat, the National TB Programme in Viet Nam has formed a national multi-stakeholder partnership, formally called Viet Nam Stop TB Partnership (VSTP) in 2010 to better coordinate partners, donors, and technical assistance. VSTP partners include governmental institutions (such as Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Ministry of Public Security, Military Medical Department of the Ministry of Defence, HIV/AIDS control administration of the Ministry of Health), community institutions (such as Women’s Union, Farmer’s Union, Vietnam Medical Association, Vietnam Youth Association, Centers for Community Health Development) , and international organizations (such as KNCV, MCNV, WHO, WB, UICTMR, GF, CDC, USAID, PATH). VSTP's activities aim to support the NTP by responding to their needs. The main problems are TB patient detection and DOTS implementation, especially in the remote, mountainous and border areas. 

VSTP collaborates with partners to reach 38 million people - almost half the population of Viet Nam - with advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns. Dr Nguyen Dinh Huong, an Advisory Board member of this conference is also the Member of Standing Committee of VSTP.

Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service – CNS
April 2013
(The author writes for Citizen News Service - CNS, manages the Global Stop-TB eForum, and is supported by the Lilly MDR TB Partnership to provide on-site coverage from the 4th Union Asia Pacific Region Conference on Lung Health in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Email: bobby@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)