Viet Nam News
Việt Nam-Cuba Đồng Hới Hospital. — Photo: zing.vn
QUẢNG BÌNH — Đặng Đức Dục, former director of Quảng Bình’s Department of Construction, still vividly remembers the time 45 years ago when he and the people of this central province received a very special guest: the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro Ruz.
At the height of the anti-US resistance war, Fidel became the first foreign leader to set foot on one of the fiercest battlefields at that time: Quảng Bình Province and the newly-liberated area in Quảng Trị.
For Dục and his fellow townsmen, Fidel’s unique visit not only offered crucial spiritual encouragement during the tough time, but also witnessed the generous leader’s practical help on the ground.
“Fidel was very touched when witnessing the hardship and dramatic losses that the Vietnamese people were suffering. So he decided to help Việt Nam build a modern hospital in Đồng Hới to serve local people and soldiers returning from southern battle fields,” recalled Dục, then a monitoring engineer-cum-interpreter for the hospital construction project.
Lại Văn Ly, vice chairman of Quảng Bình People’s Committee in the 1973-76 period, was one of the people involved in the designing and planning of the hospital.
He said Fidel’s decision came during his trip to the newly liberated areas of Vĩnh Linh in Quảng Trị.
According to Ly, as his car was travelling on the road, Fidel saw several people carrying an injured woman on a stretcher along the road side. He asked to stop the car and got out to ask about her health. The woman was wounded by a bomb when she and local young people were repairing the road.
“He then asked Cuban Ambassador Valdes Vivo to take the victim to Vĩnh Linh in the car to receive emergency aid,” Ly said.
Immediately after returning to Cuba, Fidel sent a seven-member engineering team to Quảng Bình to help choose the location and make a plan for the building of the hospital. Four Vietnamese officials, including Ly, were also sent to Cuba to take part in the design of the hospital.
The hospital was only one of the various facilities that Fidel committed to help Việt Nam during the trip. Others included a hotel and a poultry breedery in Hà Nội, a cattle ranch in Sơn La and a highway.
Eight months after Fidel’s historic trip, the construction of the Việt Nam – Cuba Friendship Đồng Hới Hospital began with the participation of more than 100 experts and workers, together with machines, equipment and food transported all the way from Cuba.
Dục still remembers how kind the Cuban friends were to him and his colleagues.
“The war was still fierce and there was not enough food. We had to eat rice mixed with cassava or sweet potatoes.
“When they saw that, our Cuban friends were willing to share with us their meal portions. Each loaf of bread, each bottle of milk was divided. They also gave candies to children at kindergartens near the construction,” Dục said.
After seven years of construction, the hospital was inaugurated on September 9, 1981. With 462 beds, 19 departments and very modern equipment for the time, the hospital has served as a spearhead in the provincial health care system ever since.
Late Cuban leader Fidel Castro (third from left, first row) and late Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng (fourth from left) during Fidel’s visit to Bến Hải, Quảng Trị Province in September 1973. — VNA/VNS Photo
A “gem” of friendship
On a visit to the hospital, Việt Nam’s late Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng likened the hospital to “a gem in the two countries’ friendship” and asked the hospital staff to treasure the precious gift from the Cuban leader and people.
Thirty-seven years after its debut, the hospital has evolved into a general hospital at the top class with over 900 beds, 39 departments, eight functional rooms and over 700 staff including 190 physicians.
In 2016, a high-tech building was put into operation, offering 180 beds and a system of advanced medical equipment. It has helped solve the overcrowding, brought alternative options for treatment and reduced the financial burdens for patients. Many other constructions have also been built or renovated to meet patients’ increasing demands.
Hospital Director Dương Thanh Bình said that throughout its development, the hospital staff has always nurtured the close-knit bond with the Cuban people and the Cuban health care sector.
The hospital has established co-operation with Cuba’s Generak Calisto Garia hospital and held regular exchange visits to Cuba.
To express the hospital’s deep gratitude to the Cuban party, government and people, a statue of Fidel Castro was built inside the hospital in mid-August this year.
In April, a group of four Cuban physicians and experts came to work for the hospital.
Cardiologist Piter Martínez Benítez said: “I am happy to be invited to work here.
“We will try to share our knowledge and offer support in terms of expertise and techniques to improve the health care practice here. We want the people in Quảng Bình and the neighbouring province to enjoy better health care services.”
Director Bình said the development of the hospital is thanks to the great contributions of Cuba.
“In the coming years, the hospital will continue nurturing and further developing the bilateral relations, inviting Cuban experts to transfer advanced technology to the hospital, and sending the hospital’s staff to Cuba for professional training,” he said. — VNS
Quảng Trị approves park named for late Cuban leader
QUẢNG TRỊ — Authorities of the central province of Quảng Trị on Wednesday approved naming a park in Đông Hà City after the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
The decision was made during a meeting of the provincial People’s Council to discuss the naming of the park, as part of activities to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s historic visit to the newly liberated area in the south of Việt Nam.
The Fidel Park aims to express the sentiment of Quảng Trị people to the Cuban leader, thus deepening ties between Việt Nam and Cuba.
The park, spanning 16.15ha, is located at one of the spots Castro visited during his trip 45 years ago. It was built at a cost of nearly VNĐ138 billion (about US$6 million), including VNĐ30 billion sourced from the State budget.
Fidel made three visits to Việt Nam in September 1973, December 1995, and February 2003. He was the first foreign leader to visit the newly-liberated area in the south of Việt Nam.
Due to his contributions, the Cuban leader was presented with the two noblest orders of the Vietnamese State: the Golden Star Order in 1982 and the Hồ Chí Minh Order in 1989. — VNS