Work commenced : 1992
Achievements 2008 : 2,500 cataracts operated

Missions in Vietnam (1992-2007)

Article written by Dr Pierre Coulon, the OPC’s representative in South-East Asia, and member of the South Vietnam Academy of Ophthalmology. (OPC news bulletin n° 100, April-May-June 2008).

These missions were conducted at a time when the country of a population of 87 million had witnessed an increase of the average income per citizen by a multiple of 10. In 1992, the first protocol allowed for the creation of a national pediatric ophthalmology service, at Hô Chi Minh-Ville, which would become the reference centre for the south of the country. Until 1998, the focus of the OPC’s efforts was the allocation of a doctor’s training bursary for a year in Paris, comprehensive service equipment and an annual surgery mission.

In 1995, the OPC committed itself to supporting and developing ophthalmological services in the province of Khan Hoa (north west of Hô Chi Minh-Ville), as well as the ophthalmological service of Nha Trang (550,000 inhabitants). Two collaboration agreements (1995-2001, 2002-2007) prioritised the capacity for surgical management, the provision of supplies and equipment, the putting in place of a mobile team, and the provision of training.

In total, the number of cataracts operated on rose from 180 at the beginning of the mission to 1,700 in 2003 and hit 2,500 by the end of the programme. The OPC’s remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the talent and unfailing dedication of Professor Denise Goddé-Jolly, to whom the recognition for a large part of this achievement is owed, and also the priceless expertise of general practitioner Dr Jean Graveline.