Paediatricians have warned of an alarming increase in the number of children affected by respiratory diseases, which could lead to an increase in children suffering from asthma.
At the emergency ward of the Central Paediatric Hospital, up to 80% of children are diagnosed with respiratory diseases, and are particularly susceptible to developing asthma, especially in rural areas.
Professor Tran Quy, director of Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, said that the prevalence of asthma in children has increased by 4 to 5 times in recent years. As many as 90% of children with asthma are under 5 years old.
In the past, only 0.6% of Vietnamese children had the disease while now as many as 5-10% currently suffer from the condition.
Although there has been no official nation-wide asthma survey, a HCM City survey found that 26% of children there wheezed and that the proportion was smaller in Hanoi.
Many studies outline the causes of asthma and name mould, fungus, dust, smoking, flowers, animals, and especially infectious diseases such as tonsillitis and pneumonia, which increase childrenâ€™s chances of developing a breathing condition.
Affected children have difficulty going through daily activities and 40% of asthmatics have to miss school when they have a bad attack.
In the near future, the health ministry will carry out a nation-wide survey to construct an “asthma” map for Vietnam.
According to Nguyen Nang An, chair of Vietnam Asthma, Allergy and Clinical Immune Association, although Vietnam has been able to control the death rate caused by asthma, the number of people affected by the disease is still on the rise. While few actually receive treatment, only about 10%, asthma can be easily controlled with the proper care.
The World Health Organisation also reports the number of children affected by asthma in Asia-Pacific region has increased 3-4 times in the past 20 years.
In Vietnam, the community-level asthma control programmes have monitored 3,130 patients. After three-months of treatment, the number of people who have shown initial signs of asthma has reduced to 4.5% from 75%. 95% of patients no longer have to take medicine to quell an asthma fit. This means asthma patients have not yet been completely cured, but the disease can be fully controlled if patients take their medicine regularly.