Dr Nguyen Thi Mai: A step-by-step approach to expanding haemophilia care
In the seventeen years that Dr Nguyen Thi Mai has worked in haemophilia, she has seen care expand from pockets of basic provision to a network that encompasses the whole country.
“I remember one man who came in with abdominal bleeding. He was operated on six times during his eight month stay with us, still no-one knew what was causing the bleeding.” Dr Mai is reminiscing from the Haemophilia Centre in Hanoi, Vietnam. “Eventually he was diagnosed with haemophilia, referred to a consultant and was able to access regular advice and care. Now he works as a teacher and lives a relatively normal life.”
Enabling people with haemophilia to live normal, quality lives is the driving force behind the efforts of Dr Mai and her colleagues to improve care at a national level in Vietnam. Involved in NNHF projects in Vietnam since 2008, Dr Mai is one of a team that has worked tirelessly to build care across the country using a step-by-step approach.
When Dr Mai started working in the field, she encountered many people with haemophilia who were experiencing complications and high rates of disability, caused by barriers to diagnosis and a lack of knowledge about the condition amongst communities and healthcare professionals. With haemophilia care only available in Hanoi, it was clear that people living outside of the city were at risk of even greater challenges.
Through training for healthcare professionals and partnering with the Vietnam patient organisation, the project team strengthened care in Hanoi as well as Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, “We established in these haemophilia centres a complete care model which ensured the provision of multidisciplinary care, and collaborated with them to build a training model and patient organisation clubs that could be replicated across the country,” explains Dr Mai.
With the training hubs, national diagnosis and treatment guidelines, and a mobilised patient community in place, the project team has now started to create ten satellite centres across the country. For the very first time, people with haemophilia will have access to a national haemophilia care network.
Summarising the change that she has witnessed, Dr Mai says, “the quality of diagnosis, treatment and care for people with haemophilia in Vietnam, not only in Hanoi, has improved significantly. This is the source of great pride for everyone who has helped to make this happen.”