Dr. Huỳnh Thị Vân is the Head of the Infection Control and Prevention Department of Binh Dinh Provincial General Hospital, in Binh Dinh Province. Often described by her colleagues as a proactive leader and exuberant learner, Dr. Vân always tries to stay updated on the latest cutting-edge knowledge in medicine. In early 2020, she participated in a program developed by the USAID-supported Improving Access, Curriculum and Teaching in Medical Education and Emerging Diseases (IMPACT-MED) Alliance to train health workers and strengthen health systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite many years of experience serving as an infection control and prevention specialist, after the training Dr. Vân reported that, “The knowledge I have received from this training has helped me understand more about the disease causative agent, the transmission pathways…and the most important thing is that I was trained on the scenarios for screening, prevention, and quarantine in a way that is specific, clear, detailed, and applicable in reality.”
After studying the situation at Binh Dinh Provincial General Hospital, she convinced the hospital director and board to rearrange the patient reception area as per the training she had received and create an electronic system for medical declaration in the pandemic response.
When the second coronavirus wave hit Vietnam in July 2020, Danang General Hospital requested support from Binh Dinh Provincial General Hospital. Dr. Vân responded immediately by organizing a training with other colleagues to prepare volunteers to go to Danang. They shared their new skills and knowledge gained from the IMPACT MED Alliance training to a group of ten young and enthusiastic health workers from Binh Dinh Provincial General Hospital. These young people, she said, are “full of energy and voluntarily put up a brave fight with COVID-19 as front-line healthcare workers.”
Although Binh Dinh Provincial Hospital provided COVID-19 training for core health professionals working in the Infectious Diseases, ICU, and Infection Control and Prevention Departments, other healthcare workers had not been trained. Dr. Vân promoted wide knowledge sharing with other hospital colleagues as crucial in the fight against COVID-19. She said, “I understand that healthcare workers must have knowledge and skills to respond to the pandemic successfully. Also, front-line healthcare workers must be trained to skillfully use personal protective equipment so that they can take care of themselves and their patients without being infected or becoming a source of infection.” She emphasized how valuable the USAID-supported training was for her, saying, “Without these necessary knowledge and skills, I wouldn’t be this confident. When I said goodbye to my colleagues who flew to Danang to provide support, I felt touched; though we don’t know when this virus will be defeated, I am optimistic because I have a chance to contribute, though merely a small part in this battle.”
The training and technical assistance activities that Dr. Huynh Thi Vân participated in are among many activities taking place under the scope of the IMPACT-MED’s COVID-19 Response Project, supported by USAID in collaboration with Vietnam National Children Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City Infection Control and Prevention Society and leading infection prevention and control specialists and clinicians in Vietnam.