By Ly Nguyen, IFRC

Since early this year, Vietnam has seen over 100,000 reported dengue fever cases which killed 26 people. Over 76,800 people have been hospitalised, an increase of 42 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

In response to this health crisis, the Viet Nam Red Cross Society recently joined city authorities and other agencies in a dengue prevention and response campaign which was held in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Over 1,200 representatives from the Viet Nam Red Cross Society Chapters, Women’s Union, Youth Union, Veteran’s Union, teachers and army personnel, including hundreds of Red Cross staff and volunteers, participated in the campaign kick-off meetings in the two cities.

The kick-off meetings were followed by community cleaning activities to clear mosquito breeding sites and household visits to provide knowledge and skills on dengue prevention. This includes emptying water containers to clear mosquito larvae breeding sites and spraying chemicals to kill mosquitoes.

“We now know the importance of cleaning our homes and disposing our waste properly so that there will be no larvae, and hence no dengue,” said Hoang Thi Quynh Nga, a resident of Hoang Lien ward in the Hoang Mai district of Hanoi. Here, the Red Cross chapter distributed 100 mosquito nets to the students and residents renting in the ward and dormitory. The clean-up and communication activities on dengue prevention and treatment will be held on a weekly basis and continue until the end of the year.

“There are many approaches to prevent dengue from spreading,” said Nguyen Sy Truong, the Chairman of the Viet Nam Red Cross’ Hanoi Chapter. “The most important thing is that everyone is aware of these dengue prevention methods and for them to take responsibility in preventing the spread of this disease.”

The caseload is stretching hospitals beyond their capacity, with doctors and nurses working overtime and on weekends, with insufficient space for patients. The National Children’s Hospital, where the most severe dengue-cases are being treated, receives on average 800 to 1,000 patients each day.

Compared to previous years when dengue was more concentrated in rural areas, this year, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are among the hardest hit. The Ministry of Health attributed this unusual rise in dengue to the higher temperature, increasing rainfall and rapid urbanisation, which promotes breeding sites for mosquito larvae.