|Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, a retired physician in northern Thái Bình Province’s Quỳnh Hải Commune, gives medical check-ups and treatment for AO/dioxin victims free of charge. VNA/VNS Photo Thế Duyệt|
THÁI BÌNH – Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, a retired physician, has been treating victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (AO) free of charge for 14 years.
Thiệu’s house, located in northern Thái Bình Province’s Quỳnh Hải Commune, has become a familiar address for those who have been exposed to AO in Thái Bình, Hải Dương, Hưng Yên provinces and Hải Phòng City.
At the age of 87, Thiệu hardly has a day off. He’s busy receiving special patients, giving them health check-ups, consulting treatment and prescribing medicines. For serious patients, he gives them advice on going to the hospital for further testing and treatment.
Patients will be given herbal medicines to relieve their physical pain free of charge.
Thiệu is the seventh generation specialising in herbal medicine in his family. For him, the most valuable part of decades of working as a physician is helping many AO/dioxin patients improve their health.
Thái Bình is among the localities with the highest number of AO/dioxin victims in Việt Nam. About 34,000 people are reported to have been exposed to the toxic substance, and more than 20,000 have serious and incurable diseases as a result.
The majority of dioxin victims are living in the poverty.
“I visited many AO/dioxin victims and felt moved witnessing their physical and mental pain, so I decided to do something to help them,” he said.
In 2007, Thiệu started his journey to visit AO/dioxin victims in his hometown in Quỳnh Phụ District, bringing his herbal medicines to help them ease their pains caused by the toxin.
Every week, he travelled to give health check-ups for those in need. When he couldn’t travel, some patients came to his house.
That’s how his house became a well-known address among those suffering the impacts of AO/dioxin.
Each year, he gives free medical check-ups and medical consultancy to about 4,000 patients.
Many patients that come to Thiệu’s house have been doing so since the first days of his practice.
Nguyễn Hữu Niệp, a 72-year-old war veteran in Quỳnh Phụ District’s Quỳnh Hải Commune is among those patients.
Niệp joined the battlefield in Quảng Trị-Thừa Thiên between 1969-1972, and returned to his hometown when the war ended in 1975. The former soldier didn’t know he was exposed to the toxic substance until his two children had lumps all over their bodies shortly after they were born.
Niệp’s health got weak very quickly and he could no longer work.
In 2007, he came to find Thiệu and was given medical advice and his health has been gradually improving.
Over the past 14 years, Niệp has always come to Thiệu for medical advice when he has had health problems.
From early last year, Thiệu started his medical consultancy via the phone due to the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Herbal medicines are sent to the patient's address free of charge.
Nguyễn Thị San, Thiệu’s daughter, said she was proud and supported what her dad has done for AO victims.
She was taught to do the good things for unlucky and disadvantaged people, and her dad was an example for the whole family.
Nguyễn Đức Hạnh, chairman of the provincial Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin said Thiệu has been a part of many activities that the organisation has run to help patients in the province and neighbouring provinces.
In 2014, Thiệu was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Prime Minister for his effort in helping AO/dioxin victims.
Thiệu said the war ended nearly half a century ago, but the AO/dioxin patients still suffered from both physical and psychological pains. That’s why he would continue to do his job. VNS