COURTESY OF THE CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
Equipment in a blood donor room at a Hanoi military hospital recently was funded by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, a U.S. Department of Defense program.
UH joins in anti-AIDS effort in Vietnam
The university helps in training Vietnamese military physicians to handle HIV cases
The University of Hawaii and a Hawaii-based U.S. Department of Defense program are collaborating to help Vietnam address an emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The Defense Department recently opened its first office in Hanoi with four staff members as part of a program to assist the Vietnamese military and family members with education, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.
The UH AIDS Clinical Research Program has trained 17 Vietnamese military physicians since January 2006, and training and research efforts are being expanded, said Dr. Cecilia Shikuma, program director.
An HIV clinic was set up in a hospital in Hanoi to deliver antiretroviral care in 2007 and about 140 HIV patients are getting free antiretroviral therapy funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Shikuma said.
Another clinic will be set up this fall in Ho Chi Minh City and two other hospitals are planned in other cities next year, added the John A. Burns School of Medicine professor.
Ross Newmann, registered nurse and medical and public health manager at the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance at Tripler Army Medical Center, said the Vietnam program began in 2004 under the president's plan for AIDS relief.
The center partners with the Vietnam Ministry of Health and tries to tailor programs to the country's cultural and social norms, he said. Last year, $1.87 million was provided for the program and $3.5 million was allocated this year.
Newmann said the program will expand in the next year or two to include some nursing education, training in palliative care and treatment, some infection control training and perhaps things like safe handling of syringes for injections.
Other military personnel will be trained on HIV prevention and serve as peer leaders. The program also funds posters, information and public health announcements in the Vietnamese language and facilitates funding of laboratory equipment to diagnose AIDS.
The HIV epidemic in Vietnam isn't huge, Newmann said, "but it is an emerging epidemic, largely driven by injection drug users and commercial sex workers."
Shikuma said UH is responsible for training Vietnamese military physicians in how to deliver antiretroviral therapy and HIV care and for setting up clinics in military hospitals to do that in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese physicians who have come here rotated through Leahi Hospital, as well as community clinics which care for a lot of HIV patients and Tripler's inpatient and HIV clinic, she said.
They also spent time in Bangkok learning how to deliver HIV care in more of a developing country setting before it progresses to AIDS, she said.
UH also established a research collaboration with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest medical school in Vietnam, she said.
"They are going to give us space at their university for collaborative training and research. We're very excited about that," she said.
She said UH needs to generate funds to do anything that isn't covered by the president's AIDS program but the plan is to send students to Vietnam to develop joint research projects.
The UH School of Nursing also is communicating with the school of nursing at the university in Ho Chi Minh City about developing nursing training in HIV because "they are in a mode where the doctor does everything."
She said they want to develop nurse capabilities in HIV counseling and supportive care activities.
"It's very important to give the Vietnamese autonomy and control over medical care," she said.