Α visit tο Vietnam was undertaken on April 24-25, 2019 by Dr. Michael Angastiniotis, TIF Medical Advisor, and was supported by Prof. Suthat Fucharoen also TIF Medical Advisor, Bangkok Thailand.
Its purpose was threefold:
- To meet with members of ViTA (Vietnam Patient support group, member of TIF), and to visit the thalassaemia clinic at the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT), with the objective of reviewing the current developments in thalassaemia control in Vietnam,
- To attend the Thalassaemia International Day celebrations of Vietnam,
- To attend the South East Asia Thalassaemia (SEATH) Annual Conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries https://asean.org/asean/about-asean/overview/
According to figures presented in the SEATH Forum, it is estimated that more than 12 million people carry a thalassaemia gene in Vietnam and there are also more than 8000 thalassaemia newborns annually, including around 2000 newborns with severe thalassaemia (beta major and beta/HbE). Although progress is continuing and health authorities are aware of thalassaemia as a significant health issue, much has still need to be done mainly in provincial and smaller health facilities, and where qualified staff is concerned.
Overall, the general impression is of progress in all countries of the ASEAN network. Countries which have not yet established national programmes, such as the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia, are in the early stages of development. However, thalassaemia-dedicated services are provided, albeit at the expense of families. In this respect and in collaboration with local associations and professional bodies, TIF is planning to promote and advocate for insurance coverage for both patient care and prevention programmes.
The more advanced countries are Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, in which there is governmental involvement and progress to policy implementation, expansion and quality improvement is being made. TIF in their case will ensure its presence and vigilance, so that the rhythm of progress is maintained.