HANOI, March 23, 2013 -- I am so pleased to see the young people gathered here today. Your generation is particularly important to the cause we are here to discuss. It is a pleasure to join you today to commemorate World TB Day and emphasize this year's theme of stopping TB in our lifetime. A lifetime may seem long, but TB involves complex challenges and a lot of work.
Despite concerted efforts by the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) and its success in meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing the rate of new TB infections, Vietnam continues to be recorded as having the 12th highest tuberculosis burden in the world.
TB does not discriminate. Everyone is at risk. It is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide have been exposed to the microbes that are the cause of TB. Ten years ago I myself tested positive for exposure to TB, but fortunately received treatment and never developed the disease. There are currently an estimated 180,000 cases of active TB in Vietnam. Every person with an untreated case of TB can infect 10 to 15 other people.
Despite efforts under the National Tuberculosis Program to increase case detection, the TB detection rate remains well below the World Health Organization's goal for TB control of 70 percent.
As a result, an estimated 18,000 people die from TB in Vietnam every year -- twice as many as people who die in road accidents each year.
Many of the TB deaths are preventable with active case finding, quality diagnosis and reliable treatment. So we can do something about this. TB can be stopped in our lifetime.
Thanks to the quality of the treatment being provided by the National Tuberculosis Program, the treatment success rate is high - over 90 percent.
The United States Government is pleased to be partnering with the Government of Vietnam to strengthen response efforts. The United States is Vietnam's most significant foreign government donor on TB, which is part of the $1.6 billion contributed by the United States worldwide on the disease since 2000.
We are building partnerships between the NTP and private health care providers to improve TB screening and referral of suspected cases from private facilities to government TB clinics for testing and treatment.
The U.S. Government is also working with the NTP to improve laboratory infrastructure and staff capacity to provide quality TB tests and implement new technologies to better detect multidrug resistant-TB and TB in people living with HIV. USAID's support of the latest TB diagnostic technology was involved in almost 65 percent of all multidrug resistant-TB cases diagnosed in 2012.
The U.S. Government has supported 10 new multidrug resistant-TB treatment centers. These centers ensure that people infected with multidrug resistant-TB receive and remain on appropriate treatment for the two years it takes for them to be cured.
Multidrug resistant-TB is preventable, yet it is fueled by people seeking healthcare and receiving TB treatment from unqualified healthcare providers. Treatment for multidrug resistant-TB can cost up to up to 100 times more to cure one person with multidrug resistant-TB.
Action remains critical to prevent TB infection, quickly and accurately diagnose TB, and halt further development of multidrug resistant-TB.
National TB programs need to be adequately funded to ensure case detection reaches at least 70 percent, cures remain above 85 percent, and multidrug resistant-TB is put in check.
The Government of Vietnam has made important funding commitments for the national TB program but not at a level sufficient to meet the program's needs. Donor funding will decrease in the coming years, making it important that the Government of Vietnam further increase its commitment to the TB program. It also needs to allocate more funding to the Ministry of Health for HIV/AIDS programs.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak at this important event. The United States Government looks forward to supporting future TB efforts for the benefit of the Vietnamese people. I am confident that with government leadership, partnership among us and other organizations, and the dedication of youth like those represented here today, we will be successful on TB issues in Vietnam.
Xin Cam on.
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Last updated: January 23, 2014