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Children's hospitals struggle with recent surge in patients

HCM CITY — The number of children with respiratory illnesses, acute diarrhoea and dengue fever has increased sharply in recent days, according to hospitals in HCM City.

The HCM City Paediatrics Hospital No 1's Respiratory Diseases Ward is severely overstretched, having to take in as many as 200-230 inpatients a day while it has just 100 beds.

At the Digestive Ward of HCM City Paediatrics Hospital No 2, many inpatients are suffering from acute diarrhoea.

Environmental pollution as well as unsafe and unhygienic food have increased considerably the risk of diarrhoea in children, according to doctors.

In the first nine days of December, the city had three siblings with acute diarrhoea who contracted cholera, and the eldest one, four years old, died of the disease.

The siblings live along a canal in Binh Chanh District's Minh Huong Commune. The water in the canal is heavily polluted and contaminated with all household waste being dumped directly into it.

Lai Phuoc Hoa, director of the Binh Chanh District Preventive Health Centre, said it was matter of concern that the water in the canal contained the cholera bacteria, exposing all residents in the neighbourhood to the disease.

The area is home to about 100 families who make a living doing menial jobs.

The HCM City Health Department has ordered relevant agencies to implement measures to control further outbreaks of cholera. It has urged district authorities to strengthen awareness campaigns about the disease, including prevention measures like using boiled water, eating well cooked food and washing hands with soap and water before eating.

Meanwhile, the Pasteur Institute has noted that the city is now having about 500 patients with dengue fever every week, up 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.

In this case, it is not just children, but the number of adults contracting the mosquito-borne disease also that is on the increase.

On December 6, a first-grade student of the Chuong Duong Primary School in District 1 died of dengue fever, said Nguyen Van The, director of the District 1 Preventive Health Centre.

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