WHO donates thousands of leprosy medications to Vietnam

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 26 handed over Vietnam thousands of leprosy tablets to help the country in the treatment of leprosy.
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WHO’s representative in Vietnam Kidong Park gives the donation to Vietnam's Leprosy Prevention Program (Photo: Vietnamnet)

Accordingly, the aid package includes nearly 3,000 non-commercial packs of leprosy drugs and 20,000 lampren tablets. Associate Prof Nguyen Van Thuong, director of the National Hospital of Dermatology, said Leprosy Prevention Program’s main financial support from the national budget and NGOs has recently been reduced. However, the program still gets constant support from the WHO, especially in the form of medications.

“WHO’s support to leprosy patients in Vietnam at this time is of great significance, which gives them prompt treatment, minimizes the risk of infection and disability, and eases the burden on their families and society”, Thuong stressed. “This is the key to the success of the Leprosy Prevention Program”.

Leprosy is a rare disease that’s been left unnoticed so far. If the patients are not given timely detection and treatment, they could face a high risk of disability, mental issues.

Vietnam in recent years has seen an increasing number of leprosy patients. An average of 100-200 new cases is reported annually. Meanwhile, by the end of 2015, leprosy was declared wiped out across the country as there were no cases detected for years.

Vietnam now has 36 leprosy treatment zones, 15 leprosy villages with about 10,000 patients under surveillance in the community. The proportion of patients with grade 2 disabilities is on the rise.

According to WHO, Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age. Leprosy is curable and treatment in the early stages can prevent disability.

Leprosy is likely transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.

Earlier March 24, WHO hailed Vietnam for the country’s remarkable progress in combating tuberculosis (TB) over the course of the last year in a letter sent to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam to mark World TB Day.

Meanwhile, in April 2020, Vietnam handed over $50,000 to the WHO Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung (R) symbolically hands over $50,000 to WHO Representative to Vietnam Kidong Park in Hanoi, April 24, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Foreign Ministry.

Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung made a symbolic handover Friday of the donation to Kidong Park, WHO’s representative in Vietnam, the Foreign Ministry said.

"This contribution from Vietnam aims to mitigate the negative impacts of the global pandemic," the ministry statement said.

Trung thanked the WHO and other United Nations agencies for their support and assistance to the Covid-19 fight in Vietnam, contributing to further deepening the Vietnam-U.N. partnership of the past four decades.

Though Vietnam has itself been negatively impacted in many ways by the pandemic, the government has decided to contribute $50,000 to the WHO fund as part of efforts to help mitigate consequences of the global crisis, Trung said.

Park congratulated Vietnam on successful control of the Covid-19 virus, as evidenced by its recovery rate of more than 80 percent.

Takeshi Kasai, WHO Western Pacific director, had said at a recent regular briefing that Vietnam is staying on top of its coronavirus infection fight as a result of strong leadership by the government and cooperation among its people in helping to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Discipline among its public in following social distancing rules to reduce infections has also helped, Kasai said.

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