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Vietnam Catholics offer free health care to poor, disabled

Medical checks, breakfast and gifts bring cheer to 2,000 people on World Day of the Poor

Vietnam Catholics offer free health care to poor, disabled

A doctor examines blind patient Truong Ngoc Huy in Ho Chi Minh City on Nov. 15. (Photo: UCA News)

Published: November 17, 2020 08:45 AM GMT

Catholics and other people in southern Vietnam volunteered to offer free medical treatment to thousands of poor people as a way of marking the World Day of the Poor.

Some 2,000 people were given medical checkups, medicine, breakfast and gifts at a school in Ho Chi Minh City on Nov. 15.

Among them were 500 adults from poor families and people with physical disabilities from 22 homes and centers run by Christians and Buddhists based in the city.

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They were served by 200 health workers, social workers and volunteers. Some volunteers cut many patients’ hair.

“We offer free health care to those disadvantaged people as a kind act of love to mark the World Day of the Poor,” said Father Anthony Nguyen Ngoc Son, vice-president of the state-run Association for the Support of People with Disabilities and Orphans.

Father Son, who also serves as head of the association’s committee for health and social issues, said the patients suffered problems relating to their eyes, teeth, hearts, joints, digestion and nerves. 

He said patients’ treatment costs 350,000 dong (US$15) each on average. Those who suffer eye problems and were given glasses could cost more.

The 72-year-old priest said those patients could not afford to undergo yearly medical examinations.

Sister Mary Tran Thi An, head of Hoang Mai Center for disabled children, said she sent 80 students and 35 nuns and teachers to get clinical examinations. Many have cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Sister An, 43, said the examinations are good for them since the center has no finance to cover medical costs of students whose parents ignore their children’s health care. They only go to doctors when they have serious illnesses.

“We are happy that health givers and volunteers here warmly receive and treat us,” the nun said.

Anne Nguyen Huong Tho from Ban Co Parish said she suffers high blood pressure and varicose veins in her legs, but she never has medical examinations as she earns only 3 million dong a month from taking care of elderly people in their homes.

“I am deeply grateful to Father Son and doctors who gave me free examinations, food and gifts,” the 63-year-old single woman said.

Father Son, former head of Caritas Vietnam, said poor people need to have their health looked after well so that they can pursue their studies, work for a living, live with dignity and integrate themselves into society.

He said Vietnam’s largest city has 167,000 people with physical disabilities and 13,000 orphans. They need material support from the community.

He said he gathers health care workers to provide free medical examinations and food for poor people in rural areas every two months. Last month they offered health checkups, clothes, rice, instant noodles and school supplies to 1,000 people in An Giang province.

He said they plan to work with 1,200 people in Ben Tre province next month.


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