Dr Ta Thi Tuyet Mai from Gia Dinh People's Hospital in HCM City has created a cheap formula milk for poor patients.
As a nutrition expert, Mai has witnessed many patients suffer from long treatment. Their health has worsened while their families have had to sell houses and lands to pay for their treatment.
According to Mai, high-energy formula milks in Vietnam are mostly imported and those products aimed at healthy or slightly sick people. Moreover, they are also expensive and the average cost is around VND400,000 (USD17.5) to VND500,000 a day. Milk cost for patients with cancer or severe illness may double or three times higher.
Dr Ta Thi Tuyet Mai (right) checks the milk
Wanting to help the patients, Mai had read various documents and researches in order to create a cheap but high energy formula milk. She bought a cheap but good full cream powdered milk and mixed it with soy milk, beneficial bacteria for the intestines and other things to feed it to a patient with complications, malnutrition and swelling.
After two weeks, the patient showed signs of improved health. Thanks to the success, she was given VND1bn (USD44,000) by HCM City Department of Science and Technology in 2013 for further research lactose intolerance issues.
Tests on malnourished rats saw them improve in health.
"We had worried that beneficial bacteria might get into the blood stream and cause infection. In the end, we successfully produced a formula milk that patients with lactose intolerance can use safely," Mai said.
This is the first high-protein product for severely-ill patients produced in Vietnam. Other patients or elderly people who lack appetite have also benefited from this product at the cost of just VND50,000 (USD2.2)-70,000 a day.
Since January, it has helped bring back good health to hundreds of patients at Gia Dinh People's Hospital.
On December 17, Mai was awarded the KOVA Prize. The prize is an annual event held to honour individuals and groups that have made excellent contributions in the fields of science, education or charity.