Military doctor takes pride in UN peacekeeping mission

It was 1am on May 11, and Doctor Lai Ba Thanh at Vietnam’s level-2 field hospital in South Sudan and his colleagues were preparing to perform emergency surgery on a Mongolian soldier.

Military doctor takes pride in UN peacekeeping mission

Doctor Lại Bá Thành (second from left) performs an operation on a Mongolian patient at Việt Nam’s level-2 field hospital in South Sudan. — Photo courtesy of Doctor Lại Bá Thành

It was 1am on May 11, and Doctor Lại Bá Thành at Việt Nam’s level-2 field hospital in South Sudan and his colleagues were preparing to perform emergency surgery on a Mongolian soldier.

The 39-year-old patient was diagnosed with volvulus and necrosis of the small intestine after being admitted to the hospital suffering severe abdominal pain.

“His medical records showed that he underwent an appendix operation two months ago. He also suffered from severe malnutrition,” Thành said.

“Volvulus and necrosis of the small intestine are rare so it's a challenge to diagnose and treat them, even in hospitals equipped with full medical equipment and devices. It was more difficult here at the field hospital in the war-torn South Sudan,” he said.

“The patient was in critical condition and could have died, so we had to make a quick decision after primary diagnosis in order to save him,” Thành said.

“Due to a shortage of medical equipment, we had to perform open surgery on the patient,” he said.

“It was lucky that the surgery was successful after five hours,” Thành said.

“The patient was transferred to a higher level hospital after a few days for further treatment and he was discharged after two weeks,” he said.

“The procedure was praised by Mongolian soldiers and doctors, as well as UN staff. Many foreign doctors were surprised that the Vietnamese doctors were able to perform the surgery in difficult conditions,” Thành said.

“I feel very proud and happy to have saved our patient that day,” he said.

This is just one example of over 30 operations Thành successfully performed during his 14 months serving as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan.

Thành left Việt Nam for the African country together with 62 other military officials in October 2018.

The Vietnamese medical contingent was in charge of running the UN level-2 field hospital in Bentiu to provide medical care for over 1,800 military and civilian UN staff working in the north of South Sudan. They also took part in foreign affairs and offered medical care to locals.

Challenges

According to UN standards, a level-II field hospital must be able to examine and offer treatment to a maximum of 40 outpatients a day and 20 inpatients within seven days. It should also self-equip with sufficient medicines, needles and other supplies needed in any circumstances while being able to provide both land and aviation patient transfers to a medical facility of a higher level.

Operating this kind of field hospital in a foreign country was a huge challenge for the Vietnamese army doctors, who had literally no experience before.

Although an intense training course was designed for the doctors with lessons in politics, English, military capabilities, survival skills, and ensuring security and safety, things in reality went beyond their imagination.

Thành remembers vividly their first days in Bentiu.

“All of us were shocked. Temperatures in Bentiu, one of the driest areas in South Sudan, range from 45-50 degrees Celsius. And there were no trees, making it even hotter,” he recalled.

 

“We ate canned food without vegetables. Water resources were not guaranteed in terms of both quality and quantity, and sanitation was very poor,” he said.

“Instead of carrying out operations in well-equipped and hygienic operating rooms, we had to perform field operations in tents filled with dust,” Thành said.

“Working in a war-torn country, we also had to take measures like any army unit during a war. We had to strictly follow UN peacekeeping rules as well as local and Vietnamese laws and military discipline to ensure safety,” he added.

“However, as soldiers, we encouraged each other to overcome these difficulties.”

“We found ways to adapt to the new environment such as learning from soldiers from other countries and planting trees and flowers with seeds brought from Việt Nam to make the barren area greener while supplementing our diets with vegetables,” he said. 

“And we all gradually fitted into the new environment,” he said.

Apart from performing their daily duties as doctors, the Vietnamese soldiers took part in exchanges with delegations from other countries where they shared experience, and sang and danced with each other like close friends.

“Fourteen months working in South Sudan was a great chance for military doctors like us to learn a lot of new things,” Thành said. 

Mission completed

Military doctor takes pride in UN peacekeeping mission

The first members of Việt Nam’s level-2 field hospital arrive in South Sudan on October 2, 2018. 

All of the hospital staff returned to Việt Nam last month. “We were proud to have fulfilled the tasks assigned by the State and army,” Thành said.

The hospital treated 2,022 patients including UN staff in South Sudan and local officials and residents, according to the Việt Nam Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Many serious cases were successfully treated, including 62 surgeries.

Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình said at a ceremony held by the Ministry of Defence on December 5 in HCM City to welcome the doctors home that the dedicated military medical personnel's outstanding reputation honoured the country. Each member of the hospital served as a peace ambassador from Việt Nam.

As recognition of their achievements, the UN Under-Secretary-General sent letters to the Government of Việt Nam, extending gratitude for the contribution of the hospital.

The UN presented a Certificate of Merit and medals for peacekeeping efforts to 63 members of the group, including four individuals who demonstrated excellent service.

Thành said their mission was completed but it did not mean an end to their peacekeeping efforts.

“I am very proud to be part of the peacekeeping mission and I hope to have the chance to serve again,” he said. — VNS

Khanh Van

 
 

Other News

.
US tech and film 'collaborating' with China - US Attorney General William Barr
US tech and film 'collaborating' with China - US Attorney General William Barr
POLITICSicon  17/07/2020 

US Attorney General William Barr has accused Hollywood and US tech firms of "collaborating" with the Chinese government to do business there.

Building ASEAN Community remains top priority: Senior ASEAN officials
Building ASEAN Community remains top priority: Senior ASEAN officials
POLITICSicon  17/07/2020 

Successfully building the ASEAN Community continues to be a top priority of the bloc despite the difficulties and challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 

EU leaders meet in push for Covid recovery deal
EU leaders meet in push for Covid recovery deal
POLITICSicon  17/07/2020 

Hopes of reaching an agreement are not high, but some countries say they need urgent funding.

Malaysia calls for resolution of East Sea disputes based on int’l law
Malaysia calls for resolution of East Sea disputes based on int’l law
MARITIME SOVEREIGNTYicon  17/07/2020 

Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishamuddin Hussein on July 16 affirmed his country’s consistent position that parties should work together to ensure peace, security and stability in the East Sea.

ASEAN, Indian senior officials gather at online 22nd meeting
ASEAN, Indian senior officials gather at online 22nd meeting
POLITICSicon  17/07/2020 

Senior officials of ASEAN countries and India agreed to enhance the two sides’ cooperation in various fields at their 22nd annual meeting held online on July 16.

Cuban friendship medal bestowed upon Vietnamese ambassador
Cuban friendship medal bestowed upon Vietnamese ambassador
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

Vietnamese Ambassador to Cuba Nguyen Trung Thanh has received the country’ friendship medal for his contributions to Vietnam - Cuba relations.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and three ministers resign
Thai Deputy Prime Minister and three ministers resign
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and three ministers working for him have resigned from the cabinet, paving the way for the reshuffle of the government's economic ministerial team.

Mexico and Vietnam: for an open and strong multilateral trade system
Mexico and Vietnam: for an open and strong multilateral trade system
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

In forty-five years of diplomatic relations, economic ties between Mexico and Vietnam have grown significantly.

Vietnam steps up health co-operation with the UK
Vietnam steps up health co-operation with the UK
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

British Ambassador Gareth Ward and Vietnamese Acting Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday to outline future co-operation through the Better Health Programme, part of the UK’s Prosperity Fund.

Australia affirms continued support for freedom of navigation in East Sea
Australia affirms continued support for freedom of navigation in East Sea
MARITIME SOVEREIGNTYicon  16/07/2020 

Australia will continue to strongly advocate the freedom of navigation through the East Sea (internationally called the South China Sea), Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on July 16.

Vietnam urges Houthi rebels to cooperate with UN in oil tanker issue
Vietnam urges Houthi rebels to cooperate with UN in oil tanker issue
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN), has called on relevant parties, especially Houthi rebels, to create favourable conditions for UN experts

Vietnam calls for cooperation to end instability in Africa’s Great Lakes region
Vietnam calls for cooperation to end instability in Africa’s Great Lakes region
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

Regional and international cooperation are two crucial factors to wipe out security instability in Africa’s Great Lakes region in natural resources management, 

Deputy FM: Vietnam performing UNSC role well
Deputy FM: Vietnam performing UNSC role well
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

Vietnam performed its role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) well in the first half of this year, 

National Assembly approves nearly $6bn in funding to aid development of ethnic minority groups
National Assembly approves nearly $6bn in funding to aid development of ethnic minority groups
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

The National Assembly has approved $5.97 billion in funding for the implementation of the first phase of the national target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas from 2021-2030.

Vietnam welcomes East Sea stance in line with law: Foreign Ministry spokesperson
Vietnam welcomes East Sea stance in line with law: Foreign Ministry spokesperson
MARITIME SOVEREIGNTYicon  16/07/2020 

Vietnam welcomes other countries’ stance on the East Sea issue in line with international law, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said on July 15.

National Assembly approves state budget balance in 2018
National Assembly approves state budget balance in 2018
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

The National Assembly (NA) has issued a Resolution on the allocation of non-refundable aid capital, adjustments to state budget expenditure estimate and approval of state budget balance in 2018.

VN Prime Minister appoints new deputy defence ministers
VN Prime Minister appoints new deputy defence ministers
POLITICSicon  16/07/2020 

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently signed decisions on the appointment of new deputy defence ministers.

Vietnam, US may upgrade ties to strategic partnership next year: Carl Thayer
Vietnam, US may upgrade ties to strategic partnership next year: Carl Thayer
POLITICSicon  15/07/2020 

The two former war foes have seen a number of milestones over the past quarter century.

Vietnam jumps two places in United Nations E-Government Development Index
Vietnam jumps two places in United Nations E-Government Development Index
POLITICSicon  15/07/2020 

Vietnam climbs up two places to rank 86th in the 2020 United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI).

Former deputy minister Ho Thi Kim Thoa wanted for state assets mismanagement
Former deputy minister Ho Thi Kim Thoa wanted for state assets mismanagement
POLITICSicon  15/07/2020 

The Investigation Agency under the Ministry of Public Security has issued a wanted notice for former Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa for violating regulations on management and use of state assets, causing losses and waste.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN