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Young doctor volunteers to work in poorest district

Update: March, 22/2018 - 07:00
Doctor Nguyễn Văn Hiếu was named one of 10 outstanding young people of Việt Nam 2017. — Photo
Viet Nam News

ĐIỆN BIÊN — It takes nearly seven hours to travel from Mường Lay District to the Mường Nhé District Medical Station, where doctor Nguyễn Văn Hiếu examines and treats local children and other residents.

The journey is perilous, and many parts of the route have been blocked by landslides after flashfloods in recent months.

Doctor Hiếu is well-known among locals. Leaving Hà Nội, Hiếu volunteered to work in Mường Nhé District. His journey is like a beloved legend about medical ethics in real life. He was named one of 10 outstanding young people of Việt Nam 2017.

Taking about Hiếu, an owner of a small restaurant in Mường Nhé District smiled and said, “Hiếu is specialised in paediatrics. He loves children, and he is a kind person. He buys new clothes for poor children who go to the clinic for health checks.”

Visiting Hiếu at work, people can easily see his thoughtful behaviour.

“How is he? Does he breastfeed?” Hiếu asks a young couple from Na Cô Sa Village in Nậm Pồ District. Their 30-month-old child is suffering from diarrhoea.

Hiếu check the child’s heartbeat and breathing, and then makes careful recommendations to a nurse about how to take care of the child.

Another child checked by Hiếu is Giàng Thị Du Lăm, 18 months old. Her father had brought her to the clinic by motorbike at 2am as she was suffering from diarrhoea and dehydration. Her temperature was worryingly low.

Hiếu warms her with a heater and keeps her under observation.

Every day, dozens of boarding patients receive careful examination from Hiếu. He also encourages the patients and their families.

Doctor Nguyễn Văn Hiếu gives examination to 18-month-old Giàng Thị Du Lăm, from Nậm Kè Commune, Mường Nhé District, the northern mountainous province of Điện Biên. — Photo

“I can live where residents live”

Lù Văn Xám, 88, a member of the Kháng ethnic minority in Mường Toong Commune, Mường Nhé District, has smoked for many years. He now suffers from chronic lung disease and heart failure.

Xám has to go to the medical station regularly when he has difficulty breathing and feels tightness in his chest. Xám receives personal care from Hiếu and his colleagues.

Lù Thị Tiền, Xám’s daughter, said, “Hiếu is a kind person. He is never furious with patients. Whenever my father feels pain, Hiếu comes and examine him even when Hiếu is sleeping.”

“When my father comes back home, Hiếu advises that he should eat meat and vegetables, and avoid fish as it can cause coughing,” said Tiền.

Hiếu graduated from Hà Nội Medical University in 2014, and then worked at the Thanh Nhàn Hospital in Hà Nội.  

When Hiếu heard about the Ministry of Public Health’s project bringing doctors to volunteer in poor districts, he was eager to sign up.

“I volunteered to go anywhere across Việt Nam. Where residents can live, I also can live,” he wrote in his application letter.

After two more years of training as a doctor specialised in paediatrics, Hiếu went to Mường Nhé, the poorest district of the northern mountainous province of Điện Biên.

Every three months, he returns to Hà Nội to visit his wife and two children, one 21 months old and the other four months old.

He faces a lot of difficulties, but Hiếu does not forget the ethics of a doctor.

Hiếu studies the ethnic minority language from his patients and their families. Now he can speak Mông language and can communicate with his patients. The ethnic Mông minority make up more than 65 per cent of the total population in Điện Biên Province. 

“My biggest hope is that children recover quickly, and are healthy when they get discharged from the medical station,” said Hiếu.

On the night before Hiếu went to Mường Nhé District, Hiếu spoke with his wife.

“We told each other that the journey was long and difficult, but we would strive to reach the destination and volunteer to contribute to a place that needs us,” said Hiếu.

Hiếu also revealed a plan to move his family to Điện Biên Province, to be closer to the land. Although they are poor, local people have grown to love the generous young doctor. — VNS


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