School of Public Health - Environmental Health and Engineering
My goals are to become familiar with public health initiatives in Vietnam to improve overall occupational health and safety. I will focus on learning about existing occupational health and safety standards, emerging issues in industrial health including toxic exposures, working conditions, workrelated injuries, and identify resources available for workers. I will achieve these goals through a research project that will look at ear-nose-throat issues among workers at an industrial zone in Vietnam. I will work with the research team to assess the environmental and work condition factors as well as the clinical, health utilization, and quality of life outcomes. I will also coordinate to schedule, as feasible, for worksite visits across the different industries in Vietnam to have a better appreciation for working conditions, identify hazards in the workplace, and speak with the workers and safety personnel to learn about their perspectives and efforts to keep workers safe. Additional, I will schedule visits to hospital and clinics where injured workers seek medical care and learn about workers’ compensation system and rehabilitation programs available. I will also conduct informative interviews with physicians specializing in occupational medicine, industrial hygienists, and other professionals in the field to learn about their respective roles. I believe through these activities (research project, worksite visits, clinic visit, informative interviews) I will develop an understanding of the challenges in occupational health and safety faced by developing countries as industrialization takes place in the ensuing years.
Hanoi Medical University
Ha Noi, Vietnam
During my time in Vietnam, I worked with Dr. Bach Tran who is an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and an Associate Professor at the Hanoi Medical University. He established the Institute for Global Health Innovation at Duy Tan University in Hanoi, Vietnam where I had the opportunity to work on 2 research projects and teach students studying medicine, public health, nursing, and pharmacy.
As a resident in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, one of the things we become familiar with is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and improvements in health and safety in the workplace in the U.S. over the last century. It was an exciting time to be in Vietnam as I was able to observe and study about topics in occupational safety and health that are prevalent in many developing countries as the economy grows and urbanization occurs at a rapid pace. The textile industry in the U.S. has largely diminished due to cheaper labor costs in Asia. I got to work on a research project that looked at upper respiratory symptoms in workers in textile manufacturing factories in Vietnam. Workers in textile factories are exposed to cotton dust, chemicals and other by-products that are harmful. Working on this project and living in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi made me realize that the economy in Vietnam is thriving, there are many in the workplace across different industries and there are still challenges in workplace safety as well as environmental health concerns that comes with development.
I was invited to give a lecture on Evidence-Based Medicine at Yen Bai Hospital which is located in the northern-central part of Vietnam and is primarily an agricultural-based province.
One of the most vibrant things in Hanoi is the street food scene. Pho has been a favorite food in the states, and I was enthralled with the options when I got to Vietnam. I learned about the many different types of noodles, soups, and regional varieties across Vietnam. I tried it all and had almost all my meals at street vendors due to its deliciousness, affordability, and ease of access. And I actually didn’t have any food poisoning. But more importantly, I got to work on a project that looked at health-related quality of life amongst street food vendors. This opportunity provided me with an appreciation for workers that are in the informal sector. Most of the time, we are focused on hygiene, food safety and health hazards posed to consumers, but the workers also face similar hazards and much more.
And lastly, I got the chance to visit academic institutions and hospitals (from communes, district hospital, private hospitals to a national hospital) across Vietnam. I was invited to lecture on evidence-based medicine and US healthcare system. One of the most memorable part of my time in Vietnam is working with the young and energetic cohort of students that taught me a lot of about Vietnamese culture. I also had the opportunity to visit and meet with the Director at the National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health in Hanoi. These experiences provided with many insights into the healthcare system in Vietnam, educational training system, and the challenges in occupational and environmental safety and health.
The team at the Institute for Global Health Innovations at Duy Tan University in Hanoi, Vietnam.