Many Bac Ninh kids sent to Hanoi hospitals for tapeworm tests

Created 18 March 2019
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Parents in the northern province of Bac Ninh have been rushing their children to hospitals in neighboring Hanoi City for pig tapeworm tests, local media reports said.

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Many Bac Ninh kids sent to Hanoi hospitals for tapeworm tests, social news, vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, vn news, Vietnam breaking news

Children and their parents are seen at the National Institute of Malaria, Parasite and Entomology

Over the last two days, the National Institute of Malaria, Parasite and Entomology and the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi have been overwhelmed with more than 1,200 children aged from one to 10 coming from Bac Ninh’s Thuan Thanh District.

Doctor Tran Thi Hai Ninh, head of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases’ division of general planning, said the hospital also received nearly 500 requests for pig tapeworm tests on March 16 alone.

This is the highest number of test requests in decades, so the two hospitals have had to mobilize more staff to handle the surging workload.

The hall of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases has even been utilized to accommodate children and their parents. The hospital will publicize results early next week.

On March 15, 365 kids in Thuan Thanh District underwent tapeworm tests at the two hospitals.

Thousands of Bac Ninh parents together with their kids have flocked to Hanoi after 62 children of Thanh Khuong kindergarten in Thuan Thanh District had been found to be infected with tapeworms. These parents have blamed dirty food at the kindergarten, supplied by Huong Thanh Company, for tapeworm infections.

Last month, cooks at Thanh Khuong kindergarten found that pork used in the school’s canteen was infected with tapeworms.

Bac Ninh chairman Nguyen Tu Quynh asked the provincial Department of Health to announce test results and educate local people about the danger of the disease and ways to prevent infections.

Meanwhile, the provincial police will have to launch an investigation, said Quynh.

The chairman also required the provincial food safety management board to coordinate with relevant agencies to enhance inspections into schools' canteens in the province to ensure food safety. The Bac Ninh Department of Education and Training must direct schools to strictly control origins of food used at their schools.

According to Nguyen Thi Ngoc, deputy director of the Thuan Thanh Division of Education and Training, the division is awaiting test results before any solutions are adopted. The division also asked 21 schools in the province to stop buying food from Huong Thanh Company.

Quick response crucial for food safety

Thousands of children have been taken to hospitals in Hanoi in recent days for testing over suspicion of tapeworm infection after news that substandard meat was served at a kindergarten weeks ago broke. The initial results are scary, with dozens testing positive. As the scandal unfolds, there are reasons for grave concerns, especially when it comes to the response of relevant parties.

The case began on February 14 when parents accidentally found pork being prepared at Thanh Khuong Kindergarten in Bac Ninh Province’s Thuan Thanh District with signs of tapeworm larvae, which is a parasitic tissue infection. Some parents challenged the school management over the substandard meat served to their children, but the school dodged their question.

The saga continued when many parents protested by refusing to take their children to the school in the following days, but to no avail, while the company that supplied meat to some 20 schools in the district asserted the pork was safe. On March 5, several parents stormed into the school’s kitchen and found rotten chicken being prepared there. Police then came and sealed the batch.

Concerned about their children’s health, hundreds of parents from Thuan Thanh District took their children to two major hospitals in Hanoi last week for testing. Last Friday alone, the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases conducted blood tests on 230 children, and found 44 positive for tapeworms, which is an abnormally high ratio. Between last Tuesday and Friday, as many as 62 were found positive, according to local media.

As the news broke, thousands of children from the district are being rushed to the hospitals these days for testing, resulting in a suffocating overload at the two facilities. The chairman of Bac Ninh Province convened a meeting on Saturday, ordering the Department of Health to conduct tests and issued guidelines and warnings to the people, while the Department of Police was told to probe relevant sides for responsibilities regarding the supply and use of substandard meat products.

This case reveals numerous loopholes in ensuring food hygiene and safety to safeguard public health, from the meat supplier’s ignorance to the school’s irresponsibility, and from the poor dissemination of information to the slow reception and response to such a crisis on the part of education and law enforcement agencies. Since the problem was detected, it took up to one month for the response to come, when the damage is already done, and in this long ordeal, it is the people, not State agencies, that bring the case to light.

In fact, tapeworm infection is not a deadly disease if found early, and can be easily dealt with. But, given the slow response, one can question what harsh consequences will be like if the outbreak comes with a fatal virus.

In 2018, according to the Ministry of Health, as many as 2,944 people were affected in 97 massive food poisoning cases, which left 17 dead, not counting individual cases that are normally unreported.

Apart from stringent requirements on food quality, apart from strict enforcement of relevant policies and regulations, and apart from tough sanctions against violators, there should be new policies and measures designed to ensure quick reaction from relevant agencies in times of crisis to safeguard public health.

 

Source: SGT - Bridge

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