Mission in Vietnam

In several large hospitals in Vietnam doctors from the US and Europe help to perform complicated procedures on newborns and infants. Since many years Prof. Dr. med. Martin Lacher is a constant part of this team.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." An idea that has become the maxim of their actions for the International Pediatric Specialists Alliance for the Children of Vietnam. A key element of IPSAC's commitment is the provision of knowledge to physicians, but also to students from medical schools and nursing schools, as well as to staff in large urban pediatric hospitals in whole Vietnam.

Prof. Dr. med. Martin Lacher, director of the Department of Pediatric Surgery at the University Hospital Leipzig, has often been part of the team that volunteers to carry out complicated procedures in Vietnam's hospitals. "The circumstances cannot be compared with our western situation in terms of technology and infrastructure," says the Leipzig specialist about the Children's Hospital of Da Nang. "For example, the families of the treated children camp next to their beds until the little patient is released." Improvisation is important in medical care. Simple desk lamps are used as heat lamps for babies, and the operating room has a much lower equipment level than in Germany. Nevertheless: "You can also work successfully with few resources."

The Leipzig surgeon has operated on complex malformations of newborns, such as the esophagus or the small intestine. The choledochal cyst, a cystic dilatation of the bile ducts, occurs frequently in Vietnam. "We currently had three cases and the children underwent minimally invasive surgery via laparoscopy," says Prof. Lacher. These so-called minimally invasive or laparoscopic techniques serve the local Vietnamese colleagues as training - and they learn immensely fast to understand and implement the new methods. "We talk a lot with our native colleagues in pediatric surgery and the neonatal intensive care unit before and after the surgeries in order to provide them with maximum know-how during this time", says Prof. Dr. med. med. Lacher. Metaphorically speaking, the Vietnamese specialists learn how to fish in this way - and will soon be able to apply new techniques in a sustainable and independent way.