Overseas Vietnamese helps to upgrade family health service

With the help of woman doctor Bui Kim Hai, a Belgian of Vietnamese origin, many programmes focusing on public health in Vietnam have been sponsored by the Belgian government and free check-ups provided by US doctors in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities.

 Born in Vinh Long province, Dr. Hai left Vietnam for Belgium before the liberation of South Vietnam to study at the University of Liege and has settled there for almost 40 years.

While working as a prestigious family doctor, she represents a number of overseas charities and regularly returns to Vietnam to help the poor.

“Senior officials from the Vietnamese and Belgian governments and various universities have got to know each other through Doctor Hai”, said Prof. Didier Giet, head of the General Medicine Faculty at the University of Liege at a Vietnamese-Belgian seminar o­n family doctors held in HCM City. Doctor Hai has recently been recognised as an honorary citizen of HCM City.

Since 1989, she has returned to Vietnam many times. She has lobbied the Belgian health sector to offer equipment to Thai Nguyen hospital as well as many assistance programmes to other localities in Vietnam.

A programme of kidney transplants worth EUR300,000 was provided by the Belgian government and over 50 patients were operated o­n. A chochlea implant programme to supply voice training to deaf children was also carried out successfully, bringing happiness to many families. Under a training programme sponsored by the University of Liege, more than 50 Vietnamese doctors had the chance to learn modern medical practices in Belgium from 2004 to 2007.

Family health services don’t simply mean that doctors visit patients in their homes for check-ups as often seen in Vietnam. This is a system that allows doctors to get further training and become specialists with work permits. With the help of doctor Hai, the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation has agreed to sponsor a training programme for Vietnamese family doctors from 2008 to 2012 with an annual budget of EUR100,000. The project aims to create a new family health service in the Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University, 115 Hospital and Gia Dinh People Hospital.

With money raised by Dr. Hai in 2006, the Fatherland Front in Tam Binh district, Vinh Long province bought 200 presents for poor people. In late 2008, she, together with her sister, Bui Kim Ha, set up the Buddhist Global Relief fund and the US Global Health Foundation to assist poor people in Vietnam.

“Most Vietnamese overseas want to make a contribution to the development of their homeland. The younger generations of Vietnamese overseas are acting as a bridge between Vietnam and the outside world”, said Dr. Hai.