Vietnam

VIETNAM MEDICAL PROJECT
(2001 - 2009)

In 2001, the Papua New Guinea Medical Project set out to expand its program to other impoverished regions of the world. The Stanford Vietnam Medical Project was created with the goal of replicating the successes of the Papua New Guinea in the poor farming communities of northern and central Vietnam. Vietnam was chosen due to similar health care and medical educational needs as the people of Papua New Guinea; but with a vastly different socioeconomic and political environment.

With the cooperation of the Vietnamese government, a team from Stanford traveled to Vietnam in the summer of 2002 to assess the needs of the Ninh Binh Province in northern Vietnam. Our team was directed to the rural Nho Quan and Quang Nam districts where there was no existing health care institutions and limited government healthcare infrastructure. There, primary clinics were set up and run with community volunteers and local health officials. A health worker training program was developed, and with the aid of student volunteers from Hanoi to translate, and educated 40 local community members in early symptom identification, basic first aid, and preventive medicine.

We devised a training course to raise the awareness of public health and hygiene in the community. The training course teach local villagers in simple preventive care, basic first aid, disease recognition patterns, and hygiene practices. In addition, we train the local Vietnamese medics to operate the clinics ensuring that the clinics are self-sufficient throughout the year. The medics learn how to conduct patient physical examinations, document relevant health care findings, monitor supplies and medications, and work with existing medical providers to establish continuing care. With each successive year of involvement the original medics became increasingly responsible for the maintenance of the program. As more village medics were recruited into the program, experienced medics were then encouraged to become "medic teachers" for their own community and for nearby villages.

The summer of 2008 saw the expansion of the clinical and medical education program into the Nghe An Province in north central Vietnam. Functioning much in the same way as the program had in its past, the Vietnam Medical Project served communities devastated by recent flooding; while conducting educational programs which targeted a wide audience ranging from small children to health care professionals. Upon our return to Hanoi, free clinics were conducted aside government health care personal providing for the needs of street children and the local homeless.

In 2009, the program concluded with a team visit to the Mekong Delta and government requested work in developing a neonatal health program. Working with the Project Vietnam NGO, the team went the remotest parts of the Mekong developing an outreach infrastructure and nursing education program.

Publications

"Healing Journeys: Teaching Medicine, Nurturing Hope" by Marilyn Winkleby and Julie Steele (Fall 2003)
"True to the Oath: Brown Med Alumni Cross Continents to Deliver Care" by Brown Medicine 9.1 (Spring 2004)