A Fighter Against Epidemics

Eminent Physician, Dr. Nguyen Hong Ha who is the Deputy Director of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases has been engaged in the treatment of infectious diseases for over 30 years. He has many times coped with dangerous “pandemics” to save the lives of patients.

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On scorching summer days, the streets in Hanoi were very hot and the clinics of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases were packed with people. We had to wait for Dr. Nguyen Hong Ha for a fairly long time until he returned after giving a medical examination to a patient with a serious infectious disease.

Although very busy with management tasks, Dr. Hong Ha still spends time examining and giving emergency aid to the patients with infectious diseases. He also attends training courses and provides professional training for the doctors specializing in tropical diseases throughout the country.

He has participated in and chaired many scientific projects of State level in the prevention and control of the epidemics, such as avian influenza A (H5N1), influenza A (H1N1) and the hand, foot and mouth disease.

Dr. Hong Ha has been invited to co-operate in the research by many great health organizations and research centres in the world, like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC – USA), the International Medical Centre of Japan (IMCJ) and the University of Oxford (UK).

In 1977, Dr. Hong Ha graduated with a degree in infectious diseases from the Hanoi Medical University and worked at the Department of Infectious Diseases of Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi. He has been involved in the treatment of serious infectious diseases, and together with his colleagues participated in the campaigns against epidemics in many areas in the country.

Over 29 years of working as a specialist doctor at the Department of Infectious Diseases (from 1977 to 2006), including 25 years of working at the Department of Emergency, Dr. Hong Ha treated and saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients.
 


Eminent Physician, Dr. Nguyen Hong Ha, Deputy Director of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases.

Dr. Nguyen Hong Ha is a leading expert on tropical diseases.

Although very busy with management tasks, Dr. Hong Ha still spends time
examining and giving emergency aid to patients with infectious diseases.


Dr. Nguyen Hong Ha directly examines and gives treatment to serious patients.


After over 30 years of working as a doctor, he has treated and saved the lives of thousands of patients.
In 2003, the SARS epidemic broke out, causing panic all over the world and Vietnam was not an exception. At that time the health sector had no information about this new disease. In just a short time, the SARS epidemic spread to 32 countries and territories, leaving 8,422 people infected, of whom 961died. In Vietnam alone, there were 63 infected cases, including 37 medical workers at the Vietnam – France Hospital and five of them died.
In this urgent situation, the Institute of Clinical Research for Tropical Diseases of Bach Mai Hospital (now the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases) was assigned with the task of receiving and treating the people with SARS by the Ministry of Health. Immediately, the hospital decided to follow a strict isolation regulation.

At that time, as the Deputy Director and Head of the Department of Emergency and Intensive Care, Dr. Hong Ha and all medical workers of the hospital were well aware of the danger of the epidemic. However, with the heart of the physicians and their social responsibility they stuck at the hospital to save the lives of the patients and extinguish the epidemic, regardless of danger and the isolation of their relatives for fear of infection.
He himself was regularly present at the hospital, even outside working hours, to give examination, care and treatment, and encourage the medical staff to complete the task. After 43 days and nights of working relentlessly and diligently, applying a series of treatments, including ventilating the wards to reduce the accumulation of germs and taking advantage of sunlight to destroy germs, he and his colleagues saved the lives of 34 patients. No physicians were infected with the disease. Finally, they successfully controlled the SARS epidemic in Vietnam. With this achievement, in 2003, Vietnam was recognized as the first nation in the world to control successfully the SARS epidemic. In 2005, Dr. Hong Ha received the Kovalevskaia Prize for his contribution.

In 2004, Dr. Hong Ha and the physicians of the hospital faced the second severe challenge, the avian influenza A (H5N1) which caused serious respiratory distress with a high death rate (over 60%). Fearless of danger, he and his colleagues embarked on the new battle. They actively researched the world’s medical breakthroughs to find a suitable therapy.

In 2006, he went to work as the Deputy Director of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases which is a leading treatment centre for infectious diseases in Vietnam.

In a country with hot and humid tropical monsoons which is easy for the development of infectious diseases like Vietnam, Dr. Hong Ha also participated in dealing with many categories of dangerous diseases, such as avian influenza A (H1N1), cholera, dengue fever, measles, Rubella, the disease caused by streptococcus suis, and meningitis.

It can be said that during more than 30 years of working in the health sector, Dr. Hong Ha has been absorbed in the struggle against infectious diseases, including the pandemics that endangered not only the patients, but also the physicians involved in fighting against the pandemics.

For his great contributions in the prevention and control of infectious diseases, in 2005, Dr. Hong Ha was awarded the title “Eminent Physician” by the State. In October, 2010 he was elected Vice President and Secretary General of the Vietnam Society of Infectious Diseases.

In any position, as a physician or a manager, Eminent Physician Nguyen Hong Ha always has the thought, “My greatest joy is that every patient of mine gets back to life”.

Story: Vinh Hung – Photo: Tat Son