US supports Vietnam in introducing integration of tuberculosis screening into COVID-19 vaccination sites
At today’s COVID-19 vaccination event, community members from District 6 received their COVID-19 vaccine and all of those who were 55 years or older were provided with a free chest X-ray taken on an ultra-portable, hand-held X-ray device that detects signs of TB.
On September 3, at Commune Health Station of Ward 5 in District 6, U.S. Acting Consul General Robert Greenan observed the integration of tuberculosis (TB) screening with the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Integrated TB screening is endorsed by the National TB Program, and with USAID assistance, Vietnam first deployed this integrated approach at COVID-19 vaccination sites in Hanoi last month with plans to expand it to Tien Giang and Can Tho provinces as well.
At event, community members from District 6 received their COVID-19 vaccine and all of those who were 55 years or older were provided with a free chest X-ray taken on an ultra-portable, hand-held X-ray device that detects signs of TB. After laboratory analysis all patients will receive their test results over the next three days and be referred to appropriate treatment if needed.
This service is supported by USAID’s Erase TB project, a $2 million, three-year initiative to increase TB detection and access to care in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The integrated screenings are in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital, the District 6 People’s Committee, and local health workers.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges in detecting and treating TB, USAID’s Erase TB project is showing that there are also new opportunities to provide integrated health screening services and to preserve the progress Vietnam has made in the fight to end TB,” remarked Greenan during the visit.
USAID’s Erase TB project is responding to the dual pandemics of TB and COVID-19 through a unique model of integrating TB screening with COVID-19 vaccinations. Through USAID support, Vietnam is one of a few countries integrating TB and COVID-19 approaches and the Government of Vietnam leadership is finding existing opportunities in the fight against COVID-19 for TB screening that can be replicated and shared globally as a best practice.
TB is both preventable and curable, but every year in Vietnam 170,000 people develop TB and more than 11,000 people die from TB, putting Vietnam among the top 30 countries with the highest TB burden in the world. The impacts of COVID-19 have severely reduced TB care and services, and during the most recent COVID outbreak, TB detection in Vietnam decreased by 80% between June and September.