Vietnam

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In Vietnam, Asthma International’s focus is on the health of children aged between 3 and 15 from the poorest communities. Vietnam has a particularly high incidence of childhood asthma: children in Vietnam aged 12-13 have the highest incidence of Asthma in Asia, at 29%.

As with children anywhere, children in Vietnam need to have control of their asthma to enable them to attend school, or, if already at school, to gain the greatest benefit from their education. Well-controlled asthma also facilitates good night-time sleep with consequent positive effects on day-time performance. But drugs are often either unaffordable or unavailable, and parents are sometimes forced to buy expensive over-the-counter medicines which contain Ephedrine, Theophylline and oral steroids, now recognised as a dangerous medical practice and certainly not an effective way to manage asthma.

Accordingly in February 2016 Asthma International began a $27,000 programme to treat 100 children of school age from low-income backgrounds.

The outreach, prescribing and administration is conducted by our Vietnamese partners at the Community Health Centre, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, under the supervision of our Vietnamese partner, Professor Le Thi Tuyet Lan PhD, Chairwoman of the University Medical Centre of Ho Chi Minh City Respiratory Care Centre. Professor Lan is an Assembly Member of the international campaigning and advisory group the Global Initiative on Asthma (http://www.ginasthma.org/), as well as being one of the most respected figures in the worldwide asthma community.

Professor Lan says: ‘A typical case study would be that of Hoai Anh, a girl of six. Hoai Anh’s parents cannot afford medical insurance or the high prices charged for asthma medications, so her asthma goes untreated. Because her asthma is exercise-induced, she can’t run or play like normal children and is not developing the lung volume which is essential for healthy development. The prospects for Hoai Anh’s future life are poor unless her asthma is properly diagnosed and treated.’

You can see the budget and Excel spreadsheet for this programme here.

On a recent visit of inspection undertaken during 16-23 September 2017, records and accounts were examined and the working clinic observed. The findings were that the clinic is doing excellent work in the following fields: outreach (finding and certifying the children as from the poorest backgrounds); testing (spirometry is used, a system which measures volume and flow of air and is able to distinguish e.g. asthma from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which requires a different medication regime); recording (records are detailed and systematic, and are available on paper and on computer); and prescribing (prescribing is individualized and long-term). Furthermore, extra matching funding has been obtained from the Vietnamese Health Service to ensure that the children involved will continue to be monitored and treated after Asthma International funds have been expended. We regard that as one of the more important achievements of the programme. You can see a typical set of medical records here.