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    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Dentists in Vietnam

    I have to admit--I'm wary about medicine and dentistry in Vietnam. Not that I don't think doctors and dentists can't have the aptitude to perfrom in Vietnam, it's just that I've seen the conditions they are forced to work from, and it's not pleasing.

    Last summer I visited three or four hospitals in Hanoi, but I actually watched a day of surgeries in the Eye and Face National Hospital in Hanoi. There I saw some great doctors perform amazing feats with substandard equipment and operating rooms. From what I hear, dentistry is similar or worse.

    Now my wife is getting a bridge, and consequently a root canal and cap and anything else necessary to fill the spot of her missing tooth. We're lucky, because her family is very well-off, and have the money to pay a very nice (and high priced) dentist. Heck, her sister just bought a $500USD cellphone.

    But I'm not posting about my wife. I worry about the rest of Vietnam. The average Vietnamese person still makes only about 12,000,000 VND a year. That's $757USD, or about $70 a month. Now true, in the Vietnamese economy, it is possible to live on that. You couldn't do that in America. So I'm NOT arguing that we need to increase wages and all that. I hear people complain about factory workers making just a couple dollars a day and I blow them off. If you gave factory workers an american salary, it'd throw the economy in a loop.

    But you can help the economy strengthen, so everyone's living standards increase, and with it, the buying power of the Vietnamese Dong in relation to the US dollar.

    I don't care about the buying power (per se) but I do care about the living standards.

    Although $757USD is middle or lower-middle class in Vietnam, the health care they have access to is pitiful. Someone could do some serious good if they could help give new equipment to Vietnamese dentists and doctors. I went to the Benh Vien Viet Phap Hanoi (French-Vietnamese Hospital of Hanoi) when I was sick, and it was amazing--because it is funded by the French. On the flip side, when visiting Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi, I tripped over broken tiles, looked into a birthing room through a fist-sized hole in the wooden door between it and the hall, and stepped around broken concrete pieces that had fallen off the walls.

    Although I don't have any links to NGOs, or hospitals, or anything like that in this post, maybe I will have succeeded in drawing attention to an area that needs help.

    1 comment:

    Westcoast said...

    arrival in April, of two dentists from UBC (University of British Columbia), (Canada). They are coming to help the team at Westcoast to treat 60 kids from local orphanages. The number of kids treated by the team will now reach 320 in only seven (7) months!
    Orphans in Vietnam are often growing up in difficult situations and the care for oral hygiene is normally very limited. Without education and treatments, most of these kids are getting severe health problems. Dentists from Westcoast, with the help of international and local partners, are trying hard to make the life of these kids better by giving them free dental treatments, education and follow-up care.
    The orphanages participating in the program are: Lotus, Sunflower, Lemongrass, Sunlight, Continental, SG Station, Tan Binh, Mai Tam and Dieu Giac Pagoda.
    Ms. Nguyen Thanh Phung Quynh, team leader at Westcoast and participant for the program notes: ‘’It is really important for us to help kids in difficult situations. The need for dental treatments in Vietnam is critical. Thank you to everyone who has helped make these missions, past and future, a great success’’.

    More info: www.westcoastinternational.com