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HCMC residents offered free chest X-rays at Covid vaccination site

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Many residents in District 6, HCMC, were given free chest X-rays for tuberculosis (TB) screening at a local Covid-19 vaccination station this morning, November 3.

This service is part of the US$2 million Erase TB project initiated and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which integrates TB screening within the Vietnamese Government’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

After receiving their Covid-19 vaccine, local residents will be screened for TB symptoms and provided with chest X-rays and Xpert testing at certain Covid-19 vaccination stations.

Acting U.S. Consul General in HCMC Robert Greenan visited a Covid-19 vaccination site at the Commune Health Station of Ward 5 in District 6 this morning to observe the integration of TB screening performed with on-site mobile chest X-rays and rapid tests. Greenan said this innovative approach is a model for the world to fight deadly airborne infectious diseases such as TB and Covid-19.

Nguyen Kim Lien, 63, one of the locals who received the free chest X-ray screening after being vaccinated against Covid-19, said, “I was pretty surprised and happy when I received the free TB screening.”

The service is offered mostly to people aged 55 or older. However, young people can also ask for the service.

Vietnam’s TB prevalence survey showed that only about 57% of the country’s new TB cases are diagnosed and treated. In addition, approximately 63% of TB-affected households face catastrophic out-of-pocket costs, estimated at more than 20% of the annual household income, related to TB care.

Moreover, the latest outbreak of Covid-19 has caused many disruptions to basic health services, including TB screening and treatment.

The USAID Erase TB project is expected to help increase TB detection and access to care, strengthen the capacity of local organizations and private sector providers to engage in the TB response and accelerate a decline in new TB cases in Hanoi and HCMC.

USAID aims to test approximately 127,000 people for TB, and around 5,600 of them are expected to test positive. These patients will be notified, resulting in a 20 % increase in TB treatment coverage. The project will also provide over 900 TB patients with social support services to reduce catastrophic costs and improve their quality of life.

Acting U.S. Consul General Robert Greenan said Covid-19 has created challenges in TB healthcare but USAID’s support has demonstrated that there are also new opportunities to integrate TB and Covid-19 health services and ensure Vietnam’s progress in the fight against TB.

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