Vietnam - Field Report
Dr Greg Fox, PhD Researcher, Centenary Institute
I’ve always wanted to work in global health. So when I was offered a research post in Vietnam to work on TB, I jumped at the chance.
Being in Vietnam I’m constantly reminded about the importance of TB research and establishing partnerships with countries that have high levels of this devastating disease. It’s such a huge problem but it’s not on the radar for most Australians because they don’t know that many people directly affected by TB.
When I first arrived here, there was a lot of work to do in order to build an effective research partnership with the Vietnamese National Tuberculosis Program. But our colleagues at the National Lung Hospital in Hanoi were very enthusiastic and keen to partner with us in high level research. Our partnership has helped us conduct local projects about genetic risks and controlling TB in the community that could make a big difference globally. But we’ve also been able to help the Hospital establish and build up their research expertise so they can conduct their own projects.
I feel privileged to be making such a huge contribution and learning so much at the same time. But I never thought I’d be strapping research papers to my back and jumping on a small motorbike to get to research sites around Hanoi. It took some getting used to riding through the chaotic city traffic and it still feels quite surreal as I pass lush green rice paddy fields on my one hour trips out to research sites set up in rural districts.
In my travels, I get to meet people affected by TB. The other day, I met a 35 year-old father of two. He has both HIV and TB – usually a deadly combination as TB is the biggest killer of people with HIV. Treating the TB early saved his life. So his kids will grow up with a father. And he’ll be able to work again to earn money to care for his family.
Both my wife (who is a GP working at an international clinic) and I – plus our 5 month old son – are grateful that we are in positions to make a difference to such a major health problem.
Please join Centenary Institute and contribute to our research to overcome TB. Visit www.tb.org.au or click the button on the left to donate.