Tuesday, January 31, 2023, 10:29 (GMT+7)

Thursday, November 04, 2021, 09:40 (GMT+7)
Southern Military Preventive Medicine Institute successfully fulfils the task of COVID-19 prevention and control

Southern Military Preventive Medicine Institute, whose forerunner was Southern Military Preventive Medicine Centre under the Department of Military Medicine (DMM) was founded under the Decision 292/QĐ-BQP, dated January 28th, 2021 by the Minister of National Defence. In spite of a lot of difficulties caused by a transformation from a centre into an institute and the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute’s Party Committee and Board of Directors have quickly stabilised the organisational structure and ensured facilities and equipment to meet the task requirements. As a result, the quality of the Institute’s epidemic, malaria, and HIV/AIDS prevention and control, environmental hygiene, labour medicine, nutrition, food safety, scientific research, preventive medicine training, and population and family planning has been considerably improved. It should be noted that the 4th wave of COVID-19 has been extremely complex with a high mortality rate in the city of Ho Chi Minh and Southern provinces, imposing more task requirements on the Institute’s cadres, soldiers, and employees. Therefore, the Institute’s Party Committee and Board of Directors have promoted a sense of unity and built up internal strength and determination to successfully fulfil the assigned task.

Vaccinating cadres and soldiers of Southern units against COVID-19

While the pandemic has been complicated, the hostile forces have stepped up their sabotage strategy against our country’s outcome of COVID-19 prevention and control to cause doubts and panics amongst the people. Thus, the Institute’s Party Committee and Board of Directors have enhanced the work of propagation and education to raise cadres, soldiers, doctors, and employees’ awareness of the pandemic prevention and control mission. Under resolutions, directives, and guiding documents by the Government, the Ministry of Health (MoH), the National Steering Board, the Ministry of National Defence (MND), and the DMM, the Institute has conducted the work of propagation to raise its staff members’ awareness of the impacts of COVID-19 on human health and life and build up a sense of responsibility for “the combat mission in peacetime.” Due attention has been paid to clarifying the Institute’s task requirements and role, working groups’ missions, and each staff member’s responsibility during COVID-19 prevention and control. The Institute has frequently collected information about COVID-19 developments in Ho Chi Minh City and Southern provinces, particularly within military units so that its cadres and employees would grasp the situation and build up their determination to perform the task. It has closely combined collective education with individual education in accordance with each working group prior to each mission. It has clearly explained each specific piece of work to its staff members to ensure individual safety during COVID-19 prevention and control. Moreover, great value has been attached to creating a healthy, safe working environment so that its cadres, soldiers, and employees could keep their mind on their work. Up to now, all cadres, doctors, employees, and soldiers of the Institute have promoted their role and responsibility and proactively, actively surmounted difficulties in the work of pandemic prevention and control. Notably, some working groups had to perform the sampling work all night but they did not show any sign of evading their duties or any lack of enthusiasm in COVID-19 prevention and control.

The Institute’s Party Committee and Board of Directors have focused their leadership and direction on taking measures to keep the pandemic under control drastically, synchronously. The Institute has developed plans in a specific, close, scientific, proper fashion, while establishing groups of cadres, doctors, and employees with good moral qualities, capacity, and experience to be in charge of COVID-19 control in the key areas, particularly within the city of Ho Chi Minh. It has also proactively set up reserve groups and teams to replace the main ones. It has assigned key cadres to take charge of specialised forces closely and prepared sufficient materials and equipment to readily respond to contingencies. Grounded on guiding documents by the MoH and the DMM as well as lessons on COVID-19 prevention and control both at home and abroad, it has organised refresher courses on ensuring safety, preventing infection of COVID-19 amongst individuals and within communities, and setting up “phases” and “steps” to respond to the pandemic in the key areas, with the absolute safety. It has also held training courses on sampling and rapid antigen testing for its cadres and employees. It has provided training courses on sampling and sample storage and transport for units stationed in the South with great reliability. Besides, it has practised projects of COVID-19 prevention and control, while anticipating many situations and developing remedial measures to avoid falling into passivity. For visitors to the Institute, they have been required to make health declarations and take rapid SARS-CoV-2 tests. As a result, there has been no cross-infection of COVID-19 within the Institute.

Due to a large operational area, when taking part in COVID-19 prevention and control, the Institute has assigned key cadres to be in charge of its working groups and teams properly. Those groups and teams have brought into play their responsibility and closely cooperated with local offices and units in effectively, safely preventing and combating COVID-19. After each mission, the Institute has organised meetings at all levels to draw lessons, opportunely encouraged individuals and collectives with outstanding achievements, and seriously dealt with weaknesses and shortcomings in pandemic prevention and control. With tireless effort and dedication of its cadres, doctors, and employees, since April 2021, the Institute has deployed 652 working groups and teams, including 1,2001 staff members, with 1,452 working days to units. It has also sent 371 teams for SARS-CoV-2 sampling and RT-PCR testing to units of Military Region 7, Army Corps 3, Army Corps 4, Corporation 28, Corporation 32, Military Institute of Traditional Medicine, and Infantry Officer College No.2, with 55,918 samples. It has used 220 groups to do rapid SARS-CoV-2 tests for units of the Border Guard Force in the South, with 33,634 samples. It has injected 16,678 doses of COVID-19 vaccines into 10,480 people; 4,282 citizens have been provided with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines; 6,198 people have been fully vaccinated across military units and offices in the South. Besides, it has deployed 12 groups to be in charge of disinfection against COVID-19 and insects in Army Corps 4’s Military School, Naval Technical College, Military Hospital 175, and Depot 690 under the Department of Ordnance, with a total area of 160,000 square metres.

Performing SARS-CoV-2 sampling for citizens of Go Vap district

To well fulfil its function and task, the Institute has closely cooperated with offices, units, and localities in COVID-19 prevention and control. Due to a large area of COVID-19 prevention and control and the pandemic’s increasingly complex developments, the Institute has proactively formulated plans for preparing sufficient personnel, materials, and equipment, while closely collaborating with offices, units, and localities, with priority given to the zones severely hit by COVID-19. At the same time, it has worked with Pasteur Institute and Ho Chi Minh City’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in speeding up SARS-CoV-2 testing and early diagnosis and organising refresher courses on the safety regulations and techniques of COVID-19 vaccination for its core force and units in the area, thereby contributing to raising the effectiveness of pandemic prevention and control. It has also cooperated with provincial-level departments of health and CDCs in the South in giving instructions and directions on COVID-19 prevention and control to military units and quarantine zones. It has organised COVID-19 screenings for high-risk units and zones to opportunely prevent the pandemic from penetrating into units and avoid community infection. During the 4th wave of COVID-19, it has assisted Ho Chi Minh City’s CDC in testing 98,638 citizens with 12,216 samples, including 1,511 positive ones, while opportunely providing information for the city’s CDC to take measures for tracing, classification, quarantine, and treatment effectively. Furthermore, it has actively participated in delegations held by the MND to inspect units’ COVID-19 prevention and control; at the same time, it has given timely advice to the MND and the DMM on directing Southern military units to curb the pandemic.

Under the guidelines by the Government on gradually restoring the socio-economic development of Ho Chi Minh City and several Southern provinces, the Institute has required its cadres, doctors, and employees to determinedly protect the outcome of COVID-19 prevention and control. There is a fact that the pandemic is temporarily controlled and localities are striving to fulfil the “dual goal.” However, the pandemic can come back with more complex variants. Therefore, due regard has been paid to drawing lessons on COVID-19 prevention and control during the 4th wave as the basis for advising the MND, the DMM, local authorities, and the Government on directing offices, units, and localities to maintain the results of pandemic prevention and control and flexibly apply measures to ensure safety in the socio-economic development process. At the same time, significance has been attached to supplementing and completing plans for coordination with offices, units, and localities in COVID-19 prevention and control in the new condition. The Institute has required its cadres, doctors, and employees to uphold determination, identify their responsibility, and ensure the absolute safety of their families and units. It has consolidated its working groups and teams so that this force would be ready to successfully fulfil the task of COVID-19 prevention and control.

With its significant contributions to pandemic prevention and control, the Institute has been given a Certificate of Merit by the MND. The DMM has recommended the General Department of Logistics to present the Institute with the Determination to Win Emulation Flag. 19 staff members have been rewarded by the MND and the General Department of Logistics. Besides, the Institute’s achievements have been highly appreciated by local party committees, authorities, and citizens in the South as an important foundation for building an “exemplarily, typically” comprehensively strong Southern Military Medicine Institute capable of assisting offices, units, Ho Chi Minh City, and the entire country in fighting against epidemics in general, the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.

Col., Dr. NGUYEN KIEN CUONG, Commandant of the Institute

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