Photo 1. A shot of Perfume River looking out from Thien Mu Pagoda’s entrance
I arrived at the PhuBai International Airport on the morning of Thursday, 05/15/14. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, the city embraced me as if it was greeting its child coming back home. I could feel the intense sensation on my skin from the summer sun of a tropical land, I heard the upbeat rhythm of hidden cicadas behind the trees, and I stared in wonder at the clear blue sky. From below, the sky in Hue looked somewhat different than in Hanoi. With a touch here and there of floral colors such as burning red Phoenix’s Tail, delicate violet Banabá plant and milky white Plumeria, the sky was a magnificent embroidery product that no other artist except for nature could create. (Or perhaps in my childhood, I learned too many poems and tales that praise this romantic city.)After a week of preparing for the meeting’s registration, transportation, hotel booking and packing, I was exhausted and ready to sleep as soon as the team checked into the hotel. Yet, the excitement of being in Hue for the first time and the anxiety waiting for the hospital’s staffs’ presentations kept me surprisingly alert throughout the day.
I spent the rest of Thursday settling in, exploring local foods, and tidying up presentation materials for NHP physicians. On Friday morning, the National Pediatric Scientific Meeting’s opening ceremony began with a musical performance by many adorable children. They dressed up in colorful and modified traditional outfits and sang cheerful songs. Their performance ended with a message for all attendees and potential media viewers: our participation was for a healthier and happier future of the children. Dr. Le Thanh Hai’s presentation (the director of NHP in Hanoi) addressed many challenges that the Vietnamese healthcare system is facing including but not limited to infrastructure, finance and human resources. He strongly urged for a stronger connection between all levels within the healthcare system, a greater support from the Ministry of Health in medical education and training, and lastly, an improvement in both public and private medical care branches. According to him and many supporting research studies these gaps have contributed to the delay in development of the Vietnamese healthcare system.
Children’s musical performance during the opening ceremony on Friday 05/16/14.
Le Thanh Hai addressed the current state and challenges of the Vietnamese healthcare system.
At the other end of the spectrum, many Vietnamese physicians from all over the country presented their scientific and clinical research in front of a large audience of Vietnamese and foreign physicians/educators, and this proved that the medical workforce is thriving against all odds. For instance, Dr. Nguyen Trong Dung from the NHP presented an evaluative study on Early Goal-Directed Therapy (EGDT) in septic shock in the Intensive Care Unit at his hospital. This clinical guideline had helped to greatly reduce the mortality rate for the children with septic shock in the ICU. Dr. Cam Ngoc Phuong from Children’s Hospital 1 in Ho Chi Minh city spoke from both the healthcare providers’ and patients’ stances on the usage of Exhaled Nitric Oxide in treating neonatal respiratory failure. Eventhough she avoided a direct comparison between Vietnamese and other international healthcare systems, Dr. Cam mentioned the difference between the hospital employee’s wage andthe medical care quality in Vietnam and Australia. One of my favorite talks was from Dr. Vu Van Quang from Haiphong Medical University. He and his colleagues identified the first case of neutrophil elastase (ELAN2) mutation in Vietnam. Due to the limitation in medical testing, the patient’s test sample was sent to a medical university in Tokyo for genetic analysis. In this process of investigation, Dr. Vu also felt fortunate to find a similar case reported from a scientific journal database. This demonstrated that the practice of information exchange is very crucial in the field of medicine and research.
I left the meeting with much information to reflect on. Besides learning about the current scientific advancement in the Vietnamese healthcare system, the meeting was also a great place to connect to other healthcare professionals. I recognized potential opportunities for future KCE members to be more involved in the meeting such as setting up a booth for software registration and installation in the exhibition area. We could further promote the software to a larger group of healthcare providers in the form of PowerPoint presentation and application demonstration on mobile devices. Above all, this meeting reminded me of the similarities between healthcare providers from around the world, and their compassion and thirst for knowledge. Hopefully one day in the very near future, I will be joining them.