A health worker handles samples for COVID-19 testing at the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control (Photo: VNA)
– Vietnam has proven that it has
strong and durable institutions that could protect the country’s public health
through future pandemics, according to an article recently published on the website
brookings.edu of the US-based Brookings Institution.
It noted that when the threat of COVID-19 dawned, the government quickly
ordered and strictly enforced border closures. Contact tracing was extensive
for all suspected cases of COVID-19, and all individuals suspected to have been
exposed to the virus were identified and isolated.
To implement this strategy of mass, coordinated quarantine,
including cooking and delivering meals to those in isolation, employing
sanitation efforts, contact tracing, and testing, required a large human
resource capacity, which the Vietnamese government recruited among medical
students and workers, party-affiliated social organisations, and the military.
Social media, widely available in Vietnam, was used to promote public health
messaging and dispel misinformation.
While Vietnam’s current outbreak is
dwarfed by those in neighbours like Indonesia and the Philippines, the government continues to enforce
quarantine regulations for all traced, suspected cases and strict regulations
on foreign entry, according to the writing.
The article said the Vietnamese government is demonstrating
that it can deploy the necessary policies and resources of the state to the
strategies it chooses, whether that is protecting public health during a global
pandemic, or increasing accountability and transparency of governance to
attract foreign investors. Certainly, the Vietnamese government’s public health
approach was impressive, and the country was uniquely positioned to take on the
challenge of COVID-19.
The recent outbreaks will require Vietnam’s public health
ministries and surveillance capabilities to maintain strong coordination with
government leadership as there is continued pressure to reopen the country to
foreign tourists and business.
Vietnam has proven that it has strong and durable
institutions that could protect the country’s public health through future
pandemics, without relying on vaccines alone.
The Vietnamese government has demonstrated it can enact an
effective preventative public health model through the structures of its state
if it so chooses, and perhaps that’s the lesson for other governments to learn
if countries are each to prepare state-led pandemic responses in the future,
the writing added./.