Saturday, August 13, 2022, 16:11 (GMT+7)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021, 07:44 (GMT+7)
Epidemic prevention and control by the Southern Military Preventive Medicine Centre

Being fully aware that “prevention is the best cure, preventive medicine must act as the key, and grass-roots level medicine must serve as the basis,” the Southern Military Preventive Medicine Centre has taken synchronous measures for epidemic prevention and control, thereby greatly contributing to protecting and taking care of health of Southern troops and citizens.

The Southern Military Preventive Medicine Centre is tasked with preventing and controlling epidemics, carrying out epidemiological surveillance, and supervising environmental sanitation, food and labour safety, and occupational illnesses within Southern military units. South Vietnam has tropical climate with a high risk of complex epidemics especially when our country is more widely and deeply integrating into the world and accelerating industrialisation and urbanisation. Meanwhile, there are new developments in climate change and environmental pollution negatively impacting on human health, together with a variety of new viruses and bacteria. Things mentioned above cause a lot of difficulties for Southern military units’ epidemic prevention and control.

The issues arising from the performance of missions

Thanks to the national expanded programme on immunisation, the epidemic rates amongst adults have been low; however, recently, epidemics, such as diphtheria, chickenpox, and mumps have broken out again in a number of units, particularly the units tasked with training new soldiers. Thus, there should be new, proactive measures for epidemic prevention and control, with priority given to vaccination. Nevertheless, the number of military medical staff members in charge of vaccination and the system of refrigerated warehouses have been limited. Several other epidemics, such as malaria have been well controlled, thereby leading to a negligent attitude. Meanwhile, materials for epidemic prevention and control, such as microscope slide, giemsa, and medication have been in a small number. Hence, there has been confusion about prevention and control in the areas with a low rate of epidemics, especially in the coastal, sea, island areas. As for more dangerous epidemics, such as the COVID-19, sampling for testing must be conducted in a larger area and number, while safety regulations must be strictly maintained to avoid cross-contamination; as a result, it is difficult to ensure sufficient personnel and materials for testing.

COVID-19 testing for border guard cadres and soldiers

Due regard has yet to be paid to ensuring labour and food safety and hygiene as well as preventing and controlling occupational diseases. Legal normative documents and new regulations on this work have yet to be sufficiently introduced. Within some military health facilities, due attention has yet to be paid to preventing toxic factors and occupational diseases from affecting their staff members. Within units, there has been a lack of profiles of labour hygiene and they have yet to be updated sufficiently under the Law on Labour Safety and Hygiene. Hence, it is vital to change the awareness of this work amongst employees, especially leaders and commanders.

In spite of the fact that the State, the Ministry of Healthy, and the Ministry of National Defence have devoted effort to providing personnel and equipment for military preventive medicine facilities in general, for the Southern Military Preventive Medicine Centre in particular, facilities and equipment  have yet to meet the increasing demands for protecting and taking care of troop health against epidemics, climate change, and new occupational illnesses, thus causing a lot of difficulties and challenges for the Military Medicine in general, the Military Preventive Medicine in particular. The quantity and quality of the Centre’s human resources have been limited. Most of the Centre’s doctors and employees have not been trained in preventive medicine. The work of recruiting cadres from other units has yet to be in line with the Centre’s organisational structure and it is hard for the Centre to recruit high-quality employees.

Some of the Centre’s significant achievements

In that context, the Centre has always been fully aware of its function and position and devoted effort to surmount all difficulties and better meet the requirements set by the military medical work. Due attention has been paid to directing and organising hundreds of working teams with thousands of cadres, nurses, and physicians to grass-roots level units for epidemic prevention and control. In this regard, great value has been attached to inspecting environment and food hygiene and safety, observing labour environment, and identifying occupational diseases within units under the Centre’s responsibility. To enhance its professional capacity and update information, the Centre has organised refresher courses and specialised conferences on preventive medicine for military medical cadres and employees for units in the South. At the same time, it has promoted tens of scientific researches at State, Ministerial, and grass-roots levels. Those researches have been centred on troops’ daily-life activities, such as dietary hygiene, food safety, labour environment, and occupational illness. It has closely cooperated with Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Health, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Pasteur Institute, Institute of Malaria, and Institute of Hygiene and Public Health in exchanging experience, assisting professional operations, supervising diseases, organising training, and undertaking scientific research. Great value has been attached to improving the capability in testing in a quick, accurate manner to meet the requirements set by the military call-up work and epidemic prevention and control. More and more laboratories have been gradually standardised at national and international levels. In 2020, the Centre has constructed and put a molecular biology laboratory into service for testing SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, it has frequently consolidated two mobile preventive medical teams and they have been trained to master modern, new equipment to readily fulfil their task in any situation. It has actively joined local authorities in the work of propagation and disease screening for the people in the area. It is worth noting that in addition to giving instructions to units on measures for COVID-19 prevention and control, the Centre has done COVID-19 tests for thousands of medical staff members and cadres and soldiers on the front line against this epidemic, thereby making significant contributions to epidemic prevention and control in the area.

Measures and lessons drawn from the performance of the task

Grounded on the performance of the task and the current developments of epidemics, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to well carry out the work of preventive medicine, it is necessary to implement several measures as follows.

1. It is essential to well conduct the work of supervising and anticipating epidemics under the motto: “supervision and identification of epidemics must be quick while quarantine and treatment must be timely.” Due regard should be paid to actively raising the quality of epidemic prevention and control within grass-roots level military medical facilities. Consideration should be given to applying information technology to managing statistics and forecasting and reporting epidemics and diseases in a smooth, timely, correct manner.

2. All-level party committees and commands’ role in leading, directing, and implementing measures for epidemic prevention and control must be heightened to localise and put down epidemics right after first cases. More importantly, it is vital to quickly investigate, track, put an end to chains of epidemic transmission, and avoid subjectivity or doubt in any emergency.

3. It is important to enhance the work of propagation relating to epidemic prevention and control. However, greater value should be attached to units stationed in the areas with a higher risk of epidemics. All troops’ skills in epidemic prevention and control should be improved while a healthy lifestyle and a physical training movement should be promoted within units. Cadres and soldiers should clearly understand symptoms of diseases, especially SARS and COVID-19. Doing so will enable them to actively take part in epidemic prevention and control, strictly implement healthy regulations, and ensure individual and environmental hygiene and food safety.

4. Significance should be attached to closely maintaining coordination between regional Military Preventive Medicine Centres, military medicine units, and local preventive medicine offices in supervising epidemics in units’ stationed areas. Due attention should be paid to broadening military medical cadres’ knowledge of new measures for epidemic prevention and control as well as improving their professional competence.

5. Emphasis should be placed on supervising labour environment and preventing and fighting against occupational diseases, particularly within military enterprises. Priority should be given to proposing solutions to deal with wastes causing environmental pollution or undermining human health, such as medical and industrial waste and pesticide, while measures to better the labour environment and reduce factors, such as noise, dust, and vibration should be implemented.

6. Due regard should be paid to gradually improving the Preventive Medicine Sector’s resources in terms of personnel and equipment, well conducting the commendation work, and proposing preferential treatment policies for staff members of this sector. Besides, it is necessary to mobilise social resources and promote international cooperation to increase the quality and quantity of equipment for preventive medicine.

Bringing into play the recorded achievements, the Southern Military Preventive Medicine Centre will keep enhancing its comprehensive capacity to better satisfy the demands for ensuring troops’ health and make contributions to taking care of the people’s health.

Sr. Col., Second Degree Specialist TRAN MINH TRUONG, Deputy Director of the Centre

Your Comment (0)