After a long hiatus as COVID-19 shut down borders and stalled travel, HVO began sending volunteers overseas once again. This summer, volunteer Dr. Mark Koh Jean Aan, clinical associate professor and head and senior consultant at the Department of Dermatology of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore, headed to Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HUMP) in Vietnam to conduct a workshop on pediatric dermatology. After an initial trip in 2019, he was prevented from returning by the pandemic shutdowns. In early 2022, Dr. Phuong Nguyen, HVO’s project on-site coordinator, reached out and asked if he would be willing to return for the workshop. Dr. Koh brought a team of five colleagues from Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines: Dr. Leong Kin Fon, Dr. Lynette Wee, Dr. Ang Yi Shan, Dr. Kathleen Mitch Uy Gomez, Dr. Siti Nuraihan Nordin. They collaborated with Dr. Nguyen and other dermatology staff in Hue to plan a day of training sessions.
The workshop took a considerable planning to make a reality, and Dr. Koh, Dr. Nguyen, and their teams worked tirelessly to iron out the ideal date, lecture topics, and audience. They settled on August 20th and were able to plan out a full day of training with collaboration from volunteers and HUMP staff. After surveying providers at HUMP, Dr. Phuong Nguyen determined that not only were a large number of dermatology professionals interested, but there was also significant interest from those in pediatrics, obstetric, and family medicine. Practitioners across all fields were invited to take part.
Twelve hundred health care professionals from institutions all over the country attended the presentations, both in-person and virtually. The workshop covered thirteen lecture topics, from physiological skin changes in neonates to genodermatoses presenting in the neonatal period. Presentations were all well received and generated questions and discussions among attendees. This was the first workshop on neonatal dermatology to take place in Vietnam. “There have been no real pediatric dermatologists in Vietnam,” wrote Dr. Nguyen, “so this workshop is so meaningful to us.” Even after a long day, attendees stayed past the end of the sessions to continue discussion. All seemed to agree that the presentations were valuable and informative.
Plans to organize further workshops with more HVO volunteers are underway and topics are currently under discussion. Dr. Koh and his team intend to return every two years to continue teaching, and he is hopeful that he can help arrange a fellowship for Dr. Phuong at his institution in Singapore. Of the workshop and future plans, Dr. Nguyen says, “We always appreciate HVO’s [motto]: ‘Transforming lives through education.’”