The aim of the tour was to make a number of professional visits in Vietnam to gain an understanding of palliative care, which is in its infancy in the country, as well as cultural visits to better understand the county’s history.
After visiting Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An, the group travelled onto Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. Here they visited the Cho Ray Cancer Hospital, one of four special level hospitals within Vietnam.
Although the hospital provides limited preventative health programs, such as hepatitis B vaccination, pap smears, mammography, and faecal occult blood testing, none of these are free and most patients present late in their disease. Charlotte comments: “Whilst it is impressive to see the building and range of programs on offer it was disappointing that preventative programs did not appear to receive any significant or targeted funding.”
Concluding the article, and the series, Charlotte writes: “There are many take home lessons for us as we return to our countries of origin on the resilience of people who have suffered so much and yet are willing to share these stories and our observation on how caring and compassionate the people we met in the hospitals and clinics are to each other when they have so little material wealth.
“We were really privileged to have undertaken this trip and would recommend the experience to others who may be interested in palliative care within resource poor countries. It is hoped that publishing details of this tour may stimulate discussion around how people fortunate to work in countries where palliative care is well resourced could best contribute to the further development of palliative care in South East Asia.”