By Tina Ngo
Vietnamese flag. Photo: Ecow / CC0
As the U.S. government’s incompetence is put on full display by the COVID-19 crisis, many are rightfully looking to other countries around the world for an alternative to the disastrous profit-first approach of the Trump administration. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has stood out as one such example of how to effectively respond to the pandemic. Vietnam, which shares a border with China and is about 1,200 miles from where the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, has overcome steep odds in the global fight against COVID-19. As of April 6, the Vietnamese government has reported 245 confirmed cases with 95 recoveries and no fatalities.
The country’s response to the outbreak has received international recognition, including from the World Health Organization and World Economic Forum, for its comprehensive, low-cost model of disease prevention. WHO representative in Vietnam, Dr. Ki Dong Park, attests the government “has always been proactive and prepared for necessary actions.”
From the era of the Vietnamese Resistance War against colonialism, to SARS and COVID-19, Vietnam has a history of success fighting against deadly diseases.
The Communist Party of Vietnam has strengthened its anti-pandemic measures by implementing nationwide social distancing rules, such as banning outside gatherings of more than two people while keeping a distance of 6.5 feet, and temporary shutdowns of “non-essential” businesses, including restaurants, entertainment centers and tourist sites.
Supermarkets and other essential services remain open, but are instructed to safeguard customers’ health by checking their temperatures before entering the building and providing them with hand sanitizers. In addition, the government has warned against panic buying and has taken action against businesses engaged in price gouging. To ensure social security for affected workers, Vietnam has approved a 111.55 million dollar financial support package that includes covering all costs for workers in quarantine or are recovering from the disease.
Unlike the U.S. capitalist class and the Trump administration, the Vietnamese government took early measures to combat the current coronavirus epidemic. Officials began preparing strategies to combat the outbreak immediately after the first cases emerged in China.
On February 1, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed Decision No.173.QD-TTG, categorizing the virus as a Class A contagious disease “that can transmit very rapidly and spread widely with high mortality rates.” This declaration of a national emergency came after the sixth case of coronavirus in the country was reported. In contrast, the Trump administration only declared a national emergency over the global pandemic on March 13, when there were at least 1,920 confirmed cases across 46 states.
And while the Trump administration has yet to replace the U.S. Pandemic Response Team after its top officials were withdrawn in 2018, the Vietnamese government has organized a Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control to accelerate responses to the pandemic. Official guidelines for COVID19 treatment have been circulated throughout the country. The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications and Ministry of Health has gone as far as creating an app for users to report their personal health status and disseminate further information. The Prime Minister has also met with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, urging millions of young people to do their part and help their country.
To save the nation
Vietnam is densely populated and its people face high risks of exposure to deadly pathogens. This requires a competent public health system that can rapidly respond to emerging challenges and quickly disseminate information. Updates on zoonotic diseases are reported on a regular basis — defined as urgent, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Because Vietnam’s health system centers the safety and health of its people — not the profits of insurance companies — Vietnam has seen impressive success in disease prevention and management. For instance, in 2003 the WHO declared Vietnam as the first country to successfully contain SARS.
From the era of the Vietnamese Resistance War against colonialism, to SARS and COVID-19, Vietnam has a history of success fighting against deadly diseases. This cooperative spirit among its people arises from a social system that emphasizes collective effort and unity of purpose. When it comes to fighting COVID-19, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc urged “every business, every citizen, every residential area must be a fortress to prevent the epidemic.” This rhetoric has stoked a sense of cooperation among the Vietnamese people, who are no strangers to what unity means during times of hardship.
Contrary to popular rhetoric by western media, Vietnam’s success so far is not simply a miracle. It is the result of a heavily planned economy with a socialist government that puts people over profits. The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped open the weak seams of capitalism and laid bare its callousness in the face of human suffering. In a world where capitalism is a morbid plague, Vietnam proves that there is another way.
In this unprecedented time, we must embrace international cooperation and solidarity more than ever and stand together with the Vietnamese people and the rest of the world. We should learn from the successes of the Vietnamese people and battle against all forms of anti-Asian racism. We must continue to demand a health care system that puts people’s needs over corporate interests. We must demand a People’s Program to fight the virus and capitalism!