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Cancer battle heating up in Vietnam
  • | VOV, Channel News Asia | December 04, 2009 09:18 AM

In 2008, Ho Chi Minh City Tumour Hospital treated 13,800 patients with tumours, 9,600 were infected with cancer.

A two-day seminar on cancer prevention was held in HCM City on December 3 by the HCM City Oncology Association and the HCM City Tumor Hospital, with the participation of more than 1,000 delegates from 138 healthcare centres throughout the country.

According to statistics, between 150,000-200,000 cases of cancer are reported in Vietnam every year. HCM City alone has more than 5,500 cancer patients per year and the figure continues to rise. This year, among 22,000 patients treated at the municipal tumor hospital, 13,200 cases have contracted cancer.

More than 136 scientific subjects on cancer treatment using new technologies were presented at the seminar.

Pro. Nguyen Chan Hung, Chairman of the Oncology Association in HCM City said that educating about the negative effects of tobacco, having a reasonable nutritional diet and vaccination are major factors in combating cancer.

The K Hospital in Hanoi is always overloaded with patients.

Besides physical treatment, psychosocial caring for terminally-ill patients and their families has become increasingly needed.

Since February 2008, Singapore medical social workers has been providing doctors and nurses at the National K Hospitals in Vietnam with training that aimed at developing programmes and tools that will meet these psychosocial needs.

Spearheaded by the Singapore International Foundation, the training's target objective is to improve hospitals' programmes in palliative care and "helping people die a good death".

In many hospitals, there are no social workers to listen and to talk to caregivers and families of the terminally-ill, and often, Vietnamese doctors and nurses are expected to play dual roles of being both the medical professional and counsellor.

But the programme is paving the way for doctors and nurses in Vietnam to develop psycho-social communication skills.

"The Vietnamese people just keep emotions (to themselves)... even we medical staff because sometimes we think if we talk, we bother other people," said Nguyen Phi Yen, vice chief of the department of Palliative Care & Pain Management at National K2 Cancer Hospital.

"But now we try to explore emotions... even for us medical staff, doctor and nurses. And after that, we try to explore emotions for patients and patients' families."

Training sessions are aimed at equipping doctors and nurses with tools for therapeutic counselling.

Through the use of simple Vietnamese arts and crafts, the medical staff will try to build the bond between a patient and his or her family.

More importantly, the medical workers help terminally-ill patients and their families come to terms with the reality of cancer.