Two of every five Vietnamese citizens in recent survey were found infected with latent tuberculosis that could emerge into the disease once the immune system becomes weak, according to Vietnam's National Tuberculosis Program.
Dinh Ngoc Sy, the program's chairman and director of the Hanoi-based National Lung Diseases Hospital, said around 70,000 new patients are diagnosed with active tuberculosis every year in the country.
"The number is still high despite a national program to control tuberculosis. It shows a slow response in detecting and treating the disease," he said.
There are around 200,000 new latent tuberculosis patients and the disease kills 30,000 people every year. About 40 percent of new patients are between 22 and 44 years old with a majority of the males.
In Vietnam, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 patients with multiple drug resistant version of the infectious disease that attacks the lungs and is spread through the air when patients cough, sneeze or otherwise transmit their saliva.
Doctors said around seven percent of patients do not get themselves examined or treated because they were embarrassed that people would know they had the infectious disease.
Others did not follow the whole treatment process or comply with preventive measures, like having individual sets of utensils, to avoid the disease spreading to other members of the family, they said.
Doctor Pham Quang Tue of the National Lung Diseases Hospital warned against a high proportion of AIDS patients contracting tuberculosis.
"Many AIDS patients are afraid of discrimination and reluctant to go to hospital for examination. Their illness would worsen and pose high risk for spreading the (tuberculosis) disease in the community," he said.
Many doctors complained of a lack of human resources in controlling tuberculosis.
"After our generation, I wonder who would work to control the disease. We have been unable to recruit any doctor," said a doctor at a lung disease hospital in the central region. He said medical students were generally not interested in treating this disease.