Facing the World has been active in Vietnam since 2008. The charity offers hope to children born with severe facial disfigurements. Since 2008, the charity has run medical missions to Vietnam. Doctors have operated on thousands of children with craniofacial defects and, crucially, are providing training for local teams at partner hospitals.
The focus, a viable and sustainable solution, is through the “teach a man to fish” approach. The charity awards international training fellowships to Vietnamese medics. It has already sent more than 80 Vietnamese doctors on fellowships to top medical institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA. A further 140 fellowships are currently in planning. These fellowships are supplemented by in-country medical missions where complex surgeries are carried out by coordinated teams of the Vietnamese doctors and the international doctors involved in the fellowship program. The charity also works with its Vietnamese partners to identify game-changing equipment needs, which are then met through donations.
Why Vietnam? The occurrence of birth defects in Vietnam is by some estimates 10 times higher than in neighboring countries, thought to be partly due to the legacy of Agent Orange.
Structure. In Vietnam, there are three medical systems running in parallel: the state system, reporting to the Ministry of Health; the military system, reporting to the Minister of Defense; and the private system, partly regulated by the Ministry of Health but able to make non-medical decisions quickly. FTW has a “hub and spoke” structure, where the private hospital, Hong Ngoc General, is the charity’s partner hub, with 108 Military Central Hospital’s Center for Craniofacial and Plastic Surgery (https://www.facebook.com/craniofacial108/) and Viet-Duc University Hospital and their networks being the spokes. 108 Military Central and Viet-Duc are among the top hospitals in Vietnam and, via their networks of approximately 100 further hospitals and clinics, the charity’s reach extends throughout the country, thereby enabling treatment for the poor, primarily children, born with severe facial disfigurements.
Our unique approach developed over the last ten years: Fellowships – In-country Training – Equipment Donation
Fellowships for Vietnamese medics are key to the charity’s success. The program started in the UK in 2015 and continues to expand its network which now includes the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in the USA. Since inception, over 80 Vietnamese medics have been offered fellowships to the UK, Canada and the USA, giving them the opportunity to observe and learn new techniques and approaches. The Difficult Airways Society (UK) has introduced its guidelines into Vietnam as a result, and is collaborating intensively with the country. Over the next five years, at least 140 more fellowships are planned to top hospitals internationally.
In-country Training builds on the fellowships, and is delivered by the charity’s teams during medical missions to Vietnam in which they and the Vietnamese teams operate jointly, putting the new approaches and techniques to use. Since 2008, there have been on average two missions to Vietnam per year. Smaller additional missions covering specific surgical topics and approaches have recently been trialed with resounding success. Mission numbers will now increase over the next five years to between four and six per year. All missions now include teaching conferences to which doctors throughout Vietnam are invited.
Equipment needs are identified in collaboration with the charity’s partner hospitals in Vietnam. In the past two years alone, £2 million of medical equipment has been donated, including InTouch Health telemedicine to Hong Ngoc, Viet-Duc, K (Cancer), and 108 Military Central hospitals as a start to extending the national and international linking and treatment capabilities.
Accomplishments. Official status in Vietnam has been granted through PACCOM registration. The charity has since signed MOUs with VAVA, the Vietnam Red Cross and Direct Relief. Direct Relief, one of the world’s largest foundations, has earmarked potentially $100 million in donations annually to Vietnam now that direct relationships with Vietnam have been facilitated by the charity.
Through intensive collaborations with Da Nang General Hospital, Viet-Duc University Hospital, 108 Military Central Hospital, and Hong Ngoc General Hospital and their respective inclusive networks, the charity is now actively working with all three medical systems and is able to leverage its approach and expertise through the vast range of hospitals networked throughout Vietnam. The charity has a Vietnamese patron and long-term financial supporters giving it a sound platform from which to continue to expand its services throughout Vietnam.
Awards. The charity was commended by the UK’s Prime Minister with a Points of Light award in recognition of excellence. The charity was awarded the medal for “Peace and Friendship among Nations” by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, and was also presented with the Vietnam President’s Medal for Friendship. The charity has been officially endorsed by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vietnam and the Vietnam-UK Network.
Volunteer-based. The charity is run primarily by volunteers who care passionately about the cause. This includes all doctors both nationally and internationally, the CEO (Trustee) and all other professionals. Major corporations and foundations support the unique approach, and have donated generously in terms of services and medical equipment.
OUR SHORT TERM VISION
Train 140 more doctors and perform 40,000 life-changing operations over 5 years.
There will be more!