Center For Southeast Asian Studies

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Researcher Receives Vietnam's Highest Health Honor

In 1978, representatives from the government of Vietnam approached Judith Ladinsky, a professor of population health sciences and international health with UW Medical School, about designing a rural health program for their country.

Twenty-five years later, Ladinsky found herself in the Ministry of Health in Hanoi, receiving a People's Health medal and certificate from Tran Thi Trung Chien, the Vietnamese Minister of Health. The award, which Ladinsky received Jan. 15, is the highest honor Vietnam can bestow upon those working in the health field.

"It's a great honor to be recognized by the minister for the work we've done here," says Ladinsky, who first visited Vietnam in 1980 as part of the U.S. Committee for Scientific Cooperation with Vietnam, a group charged with promoting joint scientific research.

Vietnam remains one of the poorest countries in the world, facing a vast array of health crises that claim countless lives each year. Under Ladinsky's guidance, the committee began its efforts in the 1980s, developing primary health care services at the village level. Ladinsky became chair of the committee in 1985, and expanded the group's mission to include developing methods to research and treat hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, Dengue Fever and Epstein-Barr virus, just a few of the serious diseases that continue to plague the Vietnamese people.

Today, thanks in part to the efforts of Ladinsky and the committee, Vietnam has formalized programs in hygiene and epidemiology, cancer care, pediatrics and cardiovascular surgery. They now work with the medical schools in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Tay Nguyen, research institutes, hospitals and the national Vietnam Nurses Association.

In her acceptance speech, Ladinsky praised the work of the local scientists, researchers and physicians who have helped her in her efforts over the years.

"We have provided much-needed medical supplies, equipment and documentation," she said. "We have also supported the exchange of students, scientists and physicians in an effort to provide the most current techniques and technologies for the care of the Vietnamese people."

The January trip was Ladinsky's 91st journey to Vietnam. She continues to work with the U.S. Committee for Scientific Cooperation with Vietnam to promote research and training programs, both here and abroad.

Pictured in front: Dr. Judith Ladinsky and Madame Tran Thi Trung Chien, Minister of Health of Vietnam.
Back row (L-R): Gary Sigman, Science & Technology Officer, US Embassy, Patti Banh, and Ambassador Raymond Burghardt. Photo by: TB.



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Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
207 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1397
phone: (608) 263-1755
fax: (608) 263-3735
e-mail: seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu