The Alina Project- TVM’s first steps into Vietnam!

The Vision Mission (TVM) travelled to Vietnam in July-August, 2019. TVM was collaborating with Alina Vision, USA to set up a Medical Retina Service and Oculoplastics service at Alina’s first eye hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. TVM’s goals as an organisation has been at capacity building, sustainability and access to sub-speciality eye care in under-served areas in East and South Asia. This found mutual synergies with Alina Vision. This Project was named “The Alina Project”

I was privileged to be part of the first TVM team for The Alina Project. I was joined by Dr. Jason Lee (a fellow Oculoplastic surgeon from Singapore and founder-director of TVM) and Dr. Anupama Kiran (A vitreo-retinal surgeon based in Mumbai).

Our brief was simple:

To help the local ophthalmologists and other allied para-medical staff in Alina Eye Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam in setting up Standard operating Protocols (SoPs) for Ophthalmic Plastics and Medical Retina services in Alina Eye Hospital in Hanoi. We spent a week there doing just that and more.

Day 1

The Vision Mission team’s first full day at Alina Eye Hospital, Hanoi was extremely busy. With Anupama running the retina clinics with Dr. Trung their in-house ophthalmologist, Jason and I ran the oculoplastics clinic with Dr. Giang their other in-house ophthalmologist. We also visited their operating theatre to take stock of their instruments and equipment. We worked with them to set up protocols for oculoplastic surgeries and sterilisation procedures.

Day 2

The second day in Hanoi for the TVM team was very fruitful. Anupama continued running the Vitreo-retina Clinics with Dr. Trung. Jason and I spent most of the day in the operating theatre helping Dr. Giang, Alina Eye Hospital’s in-house ophthalmologist go through some basic Oculoplastic procedures.

A day well spent!

Day 3

BOTOX Clinic– Jason and I demonstrated the use of BOTOX in patients with functional conditions like Hemifacial spasms, excessive lacrimation and Benign Essential Blepharospasm.

In the second half of the day, we had a short academic program where we discussed cases with other fellow ophthalmologists in Hanoi. Anupama spoke about Intra-vitreal injections, Jason spoke about difficult situations in endonasal endoscopic Dacryocystorhinostomy while I spoke about managing peri-orbital trauma.

Despite working on a sunday, all of us were in great spirits!

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Day 4

One more long day in the operating theatre for team TVM where Jason and I helped take Dr. Giang through several oculoplastic surgeries. Anupama supervised the Fundus Florescein Angiography (FFA) for several of Alina’s vitreo-retina patients.

Day 5 and 6

The Vision Mission team had a hectic schedule in the clinic as well as the operating theatre. Anupama helped Dr. Trung at the clinic treating patients administer laser treatment in the clinic and intra-vitreal injections in the operating theatre. Jason and I again continued helping Dr. Giang get comfortable with Eyelid and Lacrimal surgeries in the operating theatre after seeing patients at the clinic. Today is the final surgery day at the hospital for the TVM team.

Day 7

And it’s a Wrap!

Many months of planning and preparation has gone into making this trip successful. This is the first of an on-going collaboration between The Vision Mission and Alina Vision for helping provide sustainable eye care in under-served communities in developing countries.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the active and enthusiastic participation of the ophthalmologists at Alina Eye Hospital, Vietnam and their management. We were bowled over by the excellently trained para-medical staff at the hospital whose efficiency at the clinic and operating theatre increased exponentially over the one week we were there. Here’s the full OT team at the end of our surgeries on our last OT day.

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We also managed to have a dinner get-together with the Alina Eye Hospital staff to celebrate the success of our trip.

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With the business end of our work done with, the TVM team hoped to get to see the local sights of beautiful Hanoi.

Our last day at Hanoi- Day 9

It has been a successful trip to Alina Eye Hospital and the TVM team managed to achieve our goals in setting up Standard operating Protocols (SoPs) for the Oculoplastics and Medical Retina services in the hospital. Jason and I managed to do and teach several surgeries after first getting used to the very different eyelid and nasal anatomies of northern Vietnamese people while Anupama was able to improve processes in the Vitreo-retina service.

At the grand dinner with the Alina staff, they gifted each of us with large photo-boards from their in-house award winning photographer, Nguyen Huu Thong- a memorable gift indeed. Only regret was the heavy rains during the last two days of our stay which prevented us from sightseeing much. I guess another trip to Hanoi awaits for that! 🙂

This trip was memorable as the project played into TVM’s strengths as an organisation and we were ably supported by Alina Vision- who left no stone unturned to make sure the trip was a success. A second TVM team lead by Dr. Jayant Iyer is planning to go to Alina Eye Hospital later this year to set up SOPs in Glaucoma and Cataract surgeries. We at TVM hope this is the first of many collaborations with Alina Vision, USA to bring quality eye care to under-served communities in the region. To know more about the work we do at The Vision Mission and to donate for a good cause please visit our website- www.thevisionmission.org.

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Published by Dr. Raghuraj Hegde

Free thinker| Poet| Writer| Traveller| Doctor| Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon

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