Viet Nam News
As part of their social initiatives, Family Medical Practice Vietnam and the Embassy of Israel in Việt Nam have co-organised free medical checkups and treatment camps for needy residents of nine communes in Kon Plông from September 11-18. Lots of effort has been made to help improve the health and life of Việt Nam’s most disadvantaged communities living in one of poorest districts of the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum. Vương Bạch Liên reports.
Wearing a thin overcoat, Y Hui trembles in the cold as she holds her child in her arms and waits for her turn to get a health checkup at a medical centre in Kon Plông District.
Despite the heavy rain, the young mother has ridden her motorbike since early in the morning to take her four-year-old daughter to the medical centre of the district’s Hiếu Commune where she lives.
Normally, she hardly ever goes to the medical centre. Like for most residents of Kon Plông District in the Central Highlands Kon Tum Province, it takes hours on a motorbike to reach the medical centre in Kon Plông District, the closest medical facility.
But today is different. Doctors and nurses from Family Medical Practice (FMP) Vietnam have come directly to her commune and eight other remote communes of Kon Plông District to offer local people free medical checkups.
As part of their social initiatives, Family Medical Practice Vietnam and the Embassy of Israel in Việt Nam have co-organised free medical checkups and treatment camps for needy residents of nine communes in Kon Plong from September 11-18.
A medical team of 20 doctors, 30 nurses, and up to 70 other support staff have travelled to the region for a week-long, multi-site health treatment mission. Patients undergo health checkups by the doctor’s team, and are then given consultations, vaccinations and medicines free of cost. Doctors also instruct local people in basic hygienic practices, from hand washing to brushing teeth.
An expected 16,000 residents from 3,500 households in Kon Plông will benefit from the medical checkups during the week.
Keeping children healthy: A mother holds her child after a free medical examination at the Măng Cành Commune’s medical centre. — VNS Photo Vương Bạch Liên
For a better life
Despite heavy rains and floods due to a storm that recently hit the region, early in the morning every day the medical team has travelled to remote communes. After finishing their work in the afternoon, they spend time visiting local families to better understand how they live.
Big cars charged with basic necessities such as food, books, clothes, shoes and blankets also went across flooded roads and landslides to get to remote communes. Those goods, donated by the embassy and FMP, have been offered to needy locals from 3,500 households in the district.
“I am glad to have an occasion to take part in this humanitarian camp. Witnessing their difficult life, we really want to help them,” said Philippe Collin, FMP’s pediatrician.
The programme also aims to provide capacity building for Kon Tum Hospital staff to better serve local people. A US$27,000 modern ultrasound machine was also to be handed over to the district hospital.
"Residents of Kon Plông are more than 50km from their nearest medical facility," said FMP founder and General Director, Dr. Rafi Kot. "The people of Kon Plông have effectively no access to any health care, and with this in mind, we made the decision to take our team there to address the urgent needs of people who have been left behind by Việt Nam’s recent development surge."
The Embassy of Israel in Việt Nam also provided Hiếu Commune’s people with two wells in order to help local people access clean water in the commune. The embassy also refurbished Măng Bút Commune’s Junior Ethnic High School and handed textbooks and stationery to all of its students.
“The Embassy of Israel in Việt Nam is always attuned to the needs of Vietnamese people, and as such, we wanted to join hands with FMP to assist and support the people of Kon Plong with heath care, water accessibility and education. Israel and Việt Nam enjoy close cooperation between their countries and people, and this project is a part of the embassy’s ongoing social initiatives," Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s Ambassador to Việt Nam, commented on these activities.
The ambassador also said that some severe cases that were detected during this medical checkup will be transferred to HCM City for free treatment by FMP’s doctors.
“We are touched by the caring support of the medical team with industrious doctors who have come to help the region,” said Đào Duy Khánh, director of Kon Tum Province’s Health Department.
“This programme is very useful. It helps residents discover and treat diseases early. In the coming time, we hope to develop the family doctor model for the remote communes of the province,” he said.
Kon Plông is home to some of Việt Nam’s most disadvantaged communities including the Xê Đăng, Mơ Nâm, Ka Dong and H’Re minority tribes. People in these regions experience some of the highest mortality rates and lowest life expectancies in the region - often from preventable causes. This includes a tragically high level of prenatal mortality from home deliveries without midwives.
“In some places there are concrete roads, but other roads are still just pathways. Many residents living in the most remote communes need to walk 15km for three or four hours and pass over hills and mountains to get to the commune’s medical centre,” said Đặng Văn Điền, director of the Kon Plong District Medical Centre.
“Here many people only come to the hospital when they feel that they are very sick and think they may die. Many also believe in making ceremonial offerings to treat their diseases,” he adds.
“However, over the last few years, we are glad to see that more and more people are aware of the importance of medical health checks and going to the hospital more often,” he added.
For Y Hui, this medical checkup marks an important event in her life.
“The doctor said that my child had problems with her skin. I didn’t know about that. Now I know how to take better care of her,” she said smiling, while watching her daughter joyfully running around the lobby of the medical centre, with red balloons in her little hands. — VNS
The idea of this humanitarian camp came from Dr. Rafi Kot, FMP’s founder, who originally came to Việt Nam to work for a Non Government Organisation in rural Việt Nam 25 years ago. He fell in love with Kon Tum Province the first time he came here and promised he would return to help its inhabitants.
“Many foreigners that I meet do not know about Kon Tum Province. So I want to take them here, so that they can see with their own eyes the beautiful natural landscapes of the region and also the daily life of the local inhabitants,” he said.
Having travelled throughout Việt Nam, he has met and sympathised with many different ethnic groups, and has organised different humanitarian camps to help the country’s needy communities.
Previously, Dr. Kot has organised two other humanitarian missions, offering medical care to local people in Kon Tum’s Kon Rẫy District in 2006, and central Quảng Bình Province in 2007.