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Red Cross Issued an Emergency Appeal to Fight Disease in Vietnam

Nine-month-old boy Dao Xuan T, from the southern province of Binh Duong and affected by hand, foot and mouth disease, lies on a bed next to his sleeping mother at a local pediatric hospital in the southern province of Dong Nai, FILE August 24, 2011.
Nine-month-old boy Dao Xuan T, from the southern province of Binh Duong and affected by hand, foot and mouth disease, lies on a bed next to his sleeping mother at a local pediatric hospital in the southern province of Dong Nai, FILE August 24, 2011.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

  • Usually affects infants and children under five-years old.
  • Symptoms include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin rash.
  • Spread through nose and throat secretions, blister fluid, or stool of infected persons.
  • Lower infection risk by washing hands and disinfecting dirty surfaces.
  • There is no specific treatment, and in most cases the disease is mild and symptoms last a few days.
  • Source: CDC, Mayo Clinic

The Vietnam Red Cross has launched a public education campaign to fight the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease in Vietnam.  

Appeal to international donors

The organization issued an emergency appeal Tuesday for nearly $1 million in international donations to help fund a campaign aimed at more than 750,000 people in 13 provinces.  

The Red Cross says there have been more than 15,000 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease reported in Vietnam so far this year - seven times higher than during the same period in 2011 - and a more virulent strain of the disease has killed 11 children. 

Prevention

Bhupinder Tomar, head of the Vietnam Red Cross, tells VOA the most common methods of prevention will reduce the spread of HFMD. 

"The campaign is very simple, because this disease is very simple," Tomar explained. "It's an epidemic that has no medical cure to it, but it can be prevented by just washing your hands, and improving the general hygiene in the population.  And so the campaign is largely targeted at caregivers and in schools, where the young kids are out of their homes, and during the day they are living with the caretakers."

The Red Cross says it will mobilize 2,700 volunteers for door-to-door visits to homes and day-care centers, and it plans community information sessions.  Tomar says the Vietnamese government has been pro-active in the public relations effort, sending out notices at its lowest government levels, including in communes and provinces, to increase preventative measures.

The campaign will continue for the next nine months, to cover the two peak periods for HFMD - between April and May, and then in August and September.


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