Viet­nam trip to help sick

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

For­mer Pil­bara res­i­dent Kelly Bell will be among six Uni­ver­sity of Notre Dame stu­dents to head to Viet­nam for an eye­open­ing med­i­cal vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ence this year.

The med­i­cal stu­dents will fly to Ho Chi Minh City for 10 days, where they will pro­vide sup­port to sites as­sist­ing with con­di­tions such as HIV/AIDS, lep­rosy, blind­ness and an or­phan­age for the dis­abled.

Ms Bell said as well as gain­ing prac­ti­cal skills, the trip would help build re­silience and self-con­fi­dence among the vol­un­teers.

“In Viet­nam ... if you have HIV you aren’t out­right de­nied care, but you don’t get the same level of care you get here and you are os­tracised in your com­mu­nity,” she said.

“The typ­i­cal pa­tients who are com­ing in may have worked in the child sex in­dus­try or have come from out­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ties who haven’t even got the most ba­sic equip­ment — you’re not go­ing to turn them around if they can’t pay.

“I think that is an­other thing which will be quite eye­open­ing for us be­cause you can go to a hospi­tal here or you can go to a GP clinic which is bulk billing and the Gov­ern­ment pays for your health­care.”

Ms Bell said it would be in­ter­est­ing to com­pare con­di­tions in Viet­nam with health­care in the Pil­bara, and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties in par­tic­u­lar, where she one day wants to work.

“There’s not nec­es­sar­ily easy ac­cess to health­care and that’s some­thing peo­ple in metro ar­eas take for granted,” she said.

The crew aim to bring 100kg of ba­sic med­i­cal sup­plies and a cau­teriser to do­nate to the fa­cil­i­ties as well, and are call­ing on the public to pitch in.

“We have to work to­gether to or­gan­ise fundrais­ing and aware­ness, which can be pretty tough be­cause we’re pulling re­ally big hours at uni as well,” Ms Bell said.

“It is quite a bur­den, es­pe­cially be­cause a lot of us don’t have the ca­pac­ity to work just be­cause uni is so busy.

“If you’re a med­i­cal prac­tice or even a min­ing com­pany with its own med­i­cal team that has a box of old gloves we can take with us, that would just mean we have the op­por­tu­nity to do­nate more money or take more items with us.”

For more in­for­ma­tion or to do­nate money or goods, visit www.vol­un­teer-viet­nam.org/.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

For­mer Pil­bara res­i­dent Kelly Bell will head to Viet­nam this year with five other stu­dents to help med­i­cal es­tab­lish­ments in Ho Chi Minh City.

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