Wednesday, 11/10/2017 16:05

The Huế doctor helping children see the world

Dr. Pham Minh Truong checks the eyes of children at Hue Eye Hospital. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HA NOI – An eye doctor from central Hue City was honoured last month as an Eye Health Hero for his dedication in restoring the sight of hundreds of visually impaired children.

Dr. Pham Minh Truong, director of the Hue Eye Hospital, was the first Vietnamese doctor and among 15 eye doctors all over the world to be honoured with the title by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

The Eye Health Heroes initiative recognises and celebrates frontline staff whose work in the field and engagement with the community makes a real difference in restoring sight.

A graduate of Hue Medical University in 1987, Dr. Truong started his career at the eye care clinic in Thua Thien-Hue Province, which is now the Hue Eye Hospital.

During the past 30 years, Dr. Truong has made a contribution to the hospital’s development as well as to building up eye care clinics for kids in districts of the province.

According to IAPB, approximately 3 million Vietnamese children are visually impaired, while more than 23,000 are blind in both eyes.

The prevalence of blindness in Viet Nam’s central region is the highest among the country’s regions. However there were few ophthalmologists able to perform basic pediatric surgery and other procedures in the region and many of the children were from poor rural families who could not afford care services.

“My sole preoccupation was how to bring back vision for disadvantaged children,” Truong told the Tin Tuc (News) newspaper.

Pediatric eye care was a challenge because most of the children’s visual impairments required treatment by well-qualified doctors, especially anaesthetist, and high-tech specialised equipment.

“A few years back, when I started the eye care service for kids in Hue City, I enrolled a doctor for anesthetic training. But when he finished the training course, he left us,” Truong recalled. “It was because working as an anesthetist for kids was a hard job with less income.”

“Without a big love for the job and kids, a doctor will not overcome difficulties,” Truong added.

Poor families

Dr. Truong has made his life’s mission to help visually impaired people, especially children and to establish a network making pediatric eye care accessible for all children in need.

“In the past, only the Central Ophthalmologic Hospital in Ha Noi and HCM City’s Ophthalmologic Hospital could give treatment for visually impaired children, but most children patients in Hue were poor so they could not afford to go to Ha Noi or HCM City for treatment,” he said.

Dr Truong lobbied the local government to invest and develop Hue Eye Hospital as a tertiary-level hospital specialising in pediatric care for the central region. His efforts were eventually successful and a plot of 5,000sq.m was allocated by the Hue People’s Committee to build a new hospital in 2012.

A team of medical personnel was trained with support from Orbis, a nonprofit organisation that works in developing countries to save sight, and is now able to provide a variety of high quality treatments.

Hue Eye Hospital is the fourth Child Eye Care Centre in the country. It serves over 5,000 in-patients and outpatients each year.

Seeing huge demand from vulnerable people in the villages, Dr. Truong successfully worked with local authorities to set up four vision centres in the districts of Phu Vang, Phu Loc, Phong Dien and Huong Tra Township. Hue Eye Hospital staff frequently provide technical support for the centres.

Dr Truong shares his experience with other provinces and encourages them to establish vision centres so that more children and people in need can access regular, proper care. — VNS


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