Foreign NGOs Provide Excellent Healthcare for Vietnam's People

Health care is among the fields that receive the leading column of aid from foreign non-governmental organizations operating in Vietnam. By providing free examinations, treatments, and surgeries; donating medical equipment, and training doctors foreign non-governmental organizations have contributed to the community, giving many Vietnamese people opportunities to live healthily.
March 05, 2024 | 10:45

Restore Vision for the Blind

In 1992, Australian professor and ophthalmologist Fred Hollows visited Vietnam to examine the country's treatment of cataracts. Seeing Vietnamese doctors lack equipment and access to modern cataract surgery techniques, he promised to return in the next three months to hold training courses and improve the skills of Vietnamese doctors.

In June of that same year, Hollows was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor that needed urgent surgery. Just two months after surgery, although he was not fully recovered, he gathered a group of leading surgeons and ophthalmologists from Australia and Nepal to come to Vietnam. They installed equipment and improved the operating room at the Central Eye Hospital in Hanoi. They held a course to train 10 Vietnamese doctors.

Foreign NGOs Provide Excellent Healthcare for Vietnam's People
Doctors from Ha Giang Provincial Eye Hospital examine local people's eyes during a survey in Ha Giang on trachoma in the community. (Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation)

The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) was founded by doctor Fred Hollows and his wife, Gabrielle Hollows shortly before he died in 1993. FHF aims to continue to fulfill its wishes to prevent blindness, train doctors, and support eye care for the Vietnamese people. FHF has implemented many cooperation projects with ministries, departments, branches, universities, and medical facilities to train doctors, nurses, and technicians. It has provided financial sponsorship and equipment sponsorship for district-level eye examination and treatment facilities and disadvantaged localities; performing screening, detection, treatment, and free surgery for many patients with eye diseases. It contributes to raising people's awareness about eye care. Since 1992, FHF has supported the training of more than 1,000 eye surgeons, providing medical equipment and supporting more than 100,000 cataract surgeries.

Professor Ton Thi Kim Thanh, former Director of the Central Eye Hospital, a student of doctor Fred Hollows, called FHF's training program "a great success, playing an important role in the prevention of blindness in Vietnam."

"Thanks to the program, hundreds of thousands of blind people in Vietnam have regained their sight, as Fred promised before his death," she said.

Bring Smiles to Children

Each year, Vietnam has more than 5,000 children born with craniofacial deformities. They suffer from facial deformities, which affect the child's function, daily life, and psychology. Meanwhile, surgery and treatment of craniofacial defects is still a big challenge for Vietnamese surgeons.

According to the former Director of Central Military Hospital 108, Lieutenant General Mai Hong Bang, to treat patients with craniofacial defects, it is necessary to have a team of specialized doctors in many specialties such as plastic surgery, maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery, ENT, maxillofacial surgery, eye surgery, rehabilitation, and many modern medical equipment. The huge cost of craniofacial surgery leaves many patients in difficult circumstances unable to afford it.

Foreign NGOs Provide Excellent Healthcare for Vietnam's People
Dr. Christopher Forrest, Toronto Children's Hospital (Canada), and a group of doctors at the Center for Craniofacial and Plastic Surgery, Central Military Hospital 108 examined a patient in November 2019 (Photo: FTW).

In 2016, Central Military Hospital 108 was introduced to Facing the World (UK). With the sponsorship of Facing the World, the Center for Craniofacial and Plastic Surgery, Central Military Hospital 108 was established in 2018. Over the years, the Center has carried out more than 2,000 operations, curing many children in difficult circumstances. With two remote medical examination and treatment platforms and 26 doctors trained under Facing the World's program, it is expected that after 8 years of operation, the Center will connect and treat 60% of children with congenital craniofacial defects in Vietnam.

Facing the World, an organization founded in the UK in 2002 to help children with maxillofacial deformities in developing countries, initially supported Vietnamese children with complex craniofacial deformities by sending them to the UK for treatment. They sponsored the trip, which was up to 0.5-1 million pounds/child. Since 2008, FTW began bringing foreign doctors to Vietnam, coordinating with Vietnamese doctors to perform surgeries.

Foreign NGOs Provide Excellent Healthcare for Vietnam's People
The patient was operated on by leading cardiovascular experts and doctors at Vinh Duc General Hospital. Photo: H.D

The organization also supports sending Vietnamese doctors abroad for training. To date, more than 100 doctors at FTW's partner hospitals in Vietnam have been sent for training at hospitals in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia for 2-6 weeks, at an average cost of about 11,000 pounds/2 weeks. FTW also organizes professional seminars; developing remote examination, consultation, and treatment methods. The organization has donated remote medical examination and treatment equipment and technology with a total value of 2.4 million pounds to surgery centers in Vietnam.

​Supporting Healthy Hearts

Vo Thi Kim Tien (born in 2000, from Quang Ngai) had a congenital heart disease but her family did not know because she grew up healthy. It was not until she was in the 7th grade, when Giving It Back To Kids (GIBTK) held medical examinations for children in difficult circumstances in her hometown, that Tien knew she had dangerous heart disease.

Tien got the surgery thanks to the GIBTK's financial support. She stayed at Da Nang Hospital for a month for examination and health monitoring before the surgery. Before she entered the operating room, her father signed the form with his hands shaking. The doctor said the success chance was only 30%, yet before their child, her parents remained optimistic to encourage the daughter's spirit. GIBTK staff were always by Tien and her family's side during her surgery and recovery. The surgery was successful. More than a year later, she can comfortably participate in sports activities.

After the surgery, Tien grew up healthy. She put much effort into studying and won a scholarship in Japan. Eventually, she was invited to work for Japanese enterprises.

Foreign NGOs Provide Excellent Healthcare for Vietnam's People
Vo Thi Kim Tien had heart surgery when she was in grade 7. (Photo courtesy of Tien)

Tien is one of more than 1,500 children in difficult circumstances in Vietnam who received heart surgery support from GIBTK. Operating in Vietnam since 2002, the American organization GIBTK has contributed to changing the lives of many orphans, children in extremely difficult circumstances, the elderly, and people with disabilities in Vietnam. In addition to supporting heart surgery, GIBTK's medical program also supported more than 700 orthopedic surgeries, 98 eye surgeries, and more than 2,000 poor patients sponsored with medical equipment and supplies. In addition, GIBTK organizes many educational programs, all of which have great significance in nurturing the dreams of poor students who cannot afford to continue their education.

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