In the wake of the recent tsunamis, Hanoi hosted an international seminar on improving vaccine implementation programmes for the poor and accelerating the production and use of vaccines against cholera, typhoid, and shigellosis in developing countries, particularly those affected by the disaster.
Representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) attended the two-day event. Dr Duncan Steele, a WHO representative, said the Vaccines-For-The-Poor programme has been implemented successfully. He also stressed the importance of the Diseases of the Most Impoverished (DOMI) programme, particularly in the tsunami-stricken countries, and he added the WHO would include disease prevention initiatives in the Millennium Target.
Vietnamese Public Health minister Tran Thi Trung Chien told seminar attendees that more than 90% of Vietnamese children have been vaccinated against diphtheria, the measles, whooping-cough, polio, tuberculosis and tetanus. Vietnam has worked to eradicate polio and has successfully produced oral cholera vaccines with foreign assistance. The new vaccine has sharply reduced the number of cholera cases and prevented the outbreak of cholera epidemics nation-wide.
With the IVI’s assistance, Vietnam has also conducted research on the impact of the typhoid vaccine under the DOMI programme, which can be used as a foundation for national strategies on immunisation against cholera, typhoid and shigellosis.
However, 10% of the country is still living in poverty; 30% lacks access to safe water, and 40% lacks hygienic toilets. These deficiencies accelerate the occurrence of cholera, typhoid and shigellosis annually, especially in flood-prone areas, such as the Mekong delta and the central region.