In the historical pandemic year of 2020, COVID-19 threatened children with congenital heart defects more than any other group since the coronavirus is fatal to ones with vulnerable respiratory systems like heart children. Being aware of this, our Rural Outreach Clinics (ROCs) team operated the rural clinics with the minimization of risk. In a pandemic, it is impossible to organize a large number of clinics so VCF concentrated on the quality of each clinic. After being on hold for 6 months due to social distancing restrictions with multiple canceled trips, we were back on the road with even stronger spirit and determination. Clinics penetrated deeper into remote regions, focusing more on places that we have never visited before, where healthcare is hard to find and often neglected.

Once the government lifted lockdowns, geographical isolations, and announced “the new normal”, our ROC team was careful to schedule and operate clinics abiding by the new policy of pandemic prevention from the Ministry of Health including the use of face masks, hand sanitizer, distancing in public, and sterilization of equipment. In order to avoid overcrowding, the ROC team established more clinic visits within the schools. Doctors went to each class to examine the children – the healthcare workers moved around instead of the children.

In rural Vietnam, access to quality healthcare is poor. VCF’s ROCs is a beam of hope for mothers of sick underprivileged children. The price of heart surgery is 3-4 times their average annual income and most often parents do not realize how sick their child is. Most rural cases are undiagnosed until our ROC team visits. Most children with undiagnosed cases will die in their teens. The more ROCs that are organized, the higher the number of children will be saved.

The success of ROCs depends mainly on the collaboration between the local authorities, the doctors at the cardiovascular centers/ hospitals who donate their time freely, and our generous donors. We would like to express our deepest gratitude for all your patience and support during this difficult year, your contributions make our work possible!

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