Crowded hospitals could be spreading measles in Vietnam

By Thanh Tung - Lien Chau, Thanh Nien News

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A baby being treated for measles at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi

Cases of children allegedly contracting measles at hospitals have parents worrying that the overcrowded facilities are worsening the the recent spat of measles outbreaks.

The Central Pediatrics Hospital in Hanoi has received compensation demands from parents whose 13-month-old baby just died of measles after going to the hospital for pneumonia treatment.
Dr Tran Van Hoc from the hospital said cross-infections in hospital environments are possible and doctors usually warn patients of the risk. But would be hard to conclude that the baby caught measles the hospital instead of anywhere else, Hoc said.
The mother of a 11-month-old boy, only identified as Nguyen Duong T., also blames the Central Pediatrics Hospital for infecting her child, who is under measles treatment at Hanoi’s leading hospital Bach Mai.
T. was brought to the Central Pediatrics Hospital in March for allergy treatment and he developed rashes plus a fever days after the discharge.
He was brought back to the hospital and was diagnosed with measles but the hospital could not admit him as it was out of beds.
“We keep suspecting that he caught the measles virus when being treated at the Central Pediatrics Hospital. I’ve met two other measles patients here (in Bach Mai) who went there recently for other treatments,” the mother said.
Doctors at the Central Pediatrics Hospital said it has been treating around 200 measles patients at a time and two or three of them have to share one bed.
But the situation is not much better at Bach Mai, where children with measles are put in the same rooms with other patients.
Nguyen Tien Dung, head of the pediatrics department at the hospital, said families have expressed concerns that their children could be infected when sharing rooms with measles patients, but the hospital cannot afford to separate them yet.
“There have been many measles patients admitted, and the department has been overwhelmed for many weeks. The density could rise to 127 patients per 50 sick beds at peak time,” Dung said.
Most hospitals with pediatrics services have been overloaded as measles outbreaks has hit across the country since late January, with infections rising from previous years’ averages.
Health experts have blamed poor proper vaccination rates among children, possibly due to parental fears after a series of deaths related to pentavalent vaccine Quinvaxem as well as some other fatal administration mistakes.
In Vietnam, measles shots are provided free for children at nine months old and the second time when they are one year and a half.
Ho Chi Minh City in February started to provide necessary shots to children and 32,000 have been administered out of around 95,000 targeted.
The city health authorities have counted more than 600 children hospitalized with measles this year, not to mention outpatients.
One of the leading pediatrics facilities in the city, the Children’s Hospital No.1, has been treating more than 50 patients at a time and many need respirators as they developed pneumonia as a complication.
Tran Dac Phu, head of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department, said the disease has been reported at 50 cities and provinces.
He did not provide a list of fatalities, saying the numbers given by hospitals need to be checked to see if the patients died from measles or other conditions.

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