Philanthropic physicians treat rural poor
|Good Samaritans: Many physicians today are willing to postpone their daily business and personal pleasures in order to travel up and down mountains to provide medical treatment for rural patients. — VNS File photo
by Truong Phong and An Vu
Although she is sitting behind a crazy driver on an old motorbike who abruptly descends a mountain slope in the northern mountainous region of Yen Bai Province, 26-year-old Dang Truc Quynh, a young volunteer physician from Ha Noi's Bach Mai Hospital, wears a calm and collected face.
"I'm thankful to have better roads to go on like this. The roads in other places are far worse. Previously, when I went to volunteer in Tuyen Quang Province to examine people's health, the entire team had to walk in deep mud for dozens of kilometres. Yet this is my decision and I don't fear hardships and challenges," Quynh tells a reporter on the way into the hamlet of Pa Hu.
Quynh is among many physicians here who are willing to postpone their daily business and personal pleasures in order to travel up and down mountains with the hope of bringing medical treatment to local patients.
"Young men help the female volunteers carry their luggage. After a long journey by automobile, followed by motorbike and eventually foot, we manage to reach the windy mountain top. Although everyone was exhausted, we began work immediately, doing health checks, giving medical advise and distributing medicine to patients," adds Quynh.
She insists that being a volunteer also means that alongside the difficulties of roads and weather, you will also have to deal with the deprivations of the highland patient's living conditions, which arise from diseases and a lack of medicine. Additionally, the language barrier is also a biggest difficulty.
Nguyen Thi Dung, one of a few volunteers as young as 22, appears to share the same ideas as Quynh.
"Most of people here have their own language, so we are unable to understand what they are saying to us. Although young doctors have good training, they cannot convey advice to their patients. It is also one of my concerns," Dung says, as she heads to Tram Tau District's hospital.
One of Dung's friends, 26- year-old Cao Huyen Trang, who comes from the Ha Noi Medical University and also dedicates her time to working with patients from remote areas, says that they managed to find an interpreter to help them communicate with patients in the simplest way, which solves the problem.
"Most of female doctors always ask the interpreter to carefully explain their medical instructions to the patients so that they will not be misunderstood. By sitting and talking with sick people everyday, I can now say a few words in their language that describe simple diseases," says Trang.
Living and working near the patient's community, these young girls easily create a friendly atmosphere for children, students and old people, offering them bright smiles, a gentle hand and a family-like cordiality.
"I usually call patients by an informal name to show them my respect and to build a closer connection with the fellow citizens that I come to visit," Trang tells the reporter.
The team's work and dedication has brought them much admiration from the ethnic group in Pa Hu. Recently, many of the children from the region have come to the infirmary to ask for medicine.
"I don't understand much of what the young nurses say, but I love them very much, since they teach me about personal hygiene and how to stay healthy by eating cooked food an drinking boiled water. They are like angles sent to us from heaven," says Giang A Pa, a third grader from Tram Tau Elementary School.
Giang A Long, chief of Tram Tau Hamlet, expressed his gratefulness by saying: "Pa Hu Hamlet has just received free medicinal treatment and health checks from the Viet Nam Young Doctors Association and the local general hospital. At present, there are totally 352 households in the hamlet, over 80 per cent of which are living in poverty. Most of them are from the Thai and Mong ethnic groups. This is the first time we have seen many doctors - it makes us very happy."
Yet, there are still many challenges ahead for those young doctors. "Old people get sick due to smoking, degeneration and the hardships of labour. Children frequently become ill because they are malnourished or catch colds.
"Through these volunteer trips, we hope we can encourage people to come visit the doctor regularly so that they will avoid old-fashioned customs. The battle has only just begun," says Quynh. — VNS