Vietnam Derm Project
First, I want to thank those who took the time to offer their support and assistance to Jessica’s mom in my previous post.
Ok, so I have no idea why it didn’t dawn on me sooner to solicit pictures of common skin diseases from my readers, seeing as many of you have Vietnamese children or are Vietnamese. A few AWESOME people have emailed me and left me comments asking if it’d be helpful to pass along pictures of their kids’ ___ skin condition. YES! HUGELY helpful. So that you know how these pictures will be used, I’ll give you the run-down of the project I’m working on…
I am working with the dermatology department out here and collaborating with the dermatology department in Hue, Vietnam. Travis and I conceived (minds out of the gutter people) this project a LONG time ago, when we saw how prevalent certain skin diseases are in the orphanages of Vietnam, and how mis/undertreated they are. Things like scabies, impetigo, eczema, staph infections, viral rashes, etc. Sadly, there’s a huge lack of awareness regarding dermatologic conditions in Vientam - to be fair, we get really crappy educations on skin diseases here in US medical schools as well. Either way, it trickles down to orphanage care and most skin stuff just goes totally untreated, which makes for a pretty depressing quality of life. I CANNOT imagine itching or having permanently cracked, dry skin, etc. without relief ON TOP of living in an orphanage.
Trav and I thought it’d be a really useful thing to have a very basic guide, with pictures and realistic treatment modalities, for the 20 most common skin conditions, in every orphanage. This would allow the caregivers to consult pictures and simple descriptions in a manual to help them recognize the most common skin diseases and treat them appropriately. I found a dermatologist mentor, who has been wonderful, here in CO, and solicited the help of another US-trained doctor I had VERY coincident indirect contact with while we were in Vientam. Do you remember that little girl with severe hydrocephalus I met in the Hoi An Orpahange? After meeting her, I emailed the Hoi An Foundation to see if I could help raise the funds needed to get her a brain shunt and a very compassionate physician responded to me. Turns out, he founded the Hoi An Foundation, is faculty at Travis’ medical school, AND is currently living in Central Vietnam so that he can help educate countryside docs on certain public health and disease topics. WOW, talk about crazy coincidences (or something more if you don’t believe in coincidences).
So, that doctor has put me in touch with the appropriate departments at the medical school in Hue. I will be collaborating with the physicians there, setting up a teledermatology link so that consultations can occur when an unusual derm case presents itself. Additionally, I am writing a grant proposal in hopes of securing the necessary equipment to make the teledermatology consults sustainable in that digital pictures will be forwarded on to the derm dept. here, and stored for future use in the picture-based manual I am ultimately trying to create. Once I have photos of all the 20 most common skin diseases on Vietnamese skin, I will compile them into the manual. The manual will then be distributed to rural health care providers as well as orphanage caregivers.
That’s the plan anyway. I’m still in the grant writing phase of the project, but trying to collect as many pictures as I can along the way. If your child has anything that’s been conclusively diagnosed and you’d like to help this project, PLEASE email me. Here’s what I’m looking for from the photos:
- clarity, good lighting, crisp image
- relative size - if possible, take 1 picture of your finger pointing to a lesion to illustrate how big it is compared to a fingernail
- location - close-ups are great, but if possible, also take a zoomed out picture so we can see where on the body the lesions are
PS: If you’ve read this far, you deserve a heads-up…check back before the weekend for a surprise:)
POST UPDATE: oh crap guys, didn’t mean to lead you down that path! NO, I’m not pregnant. NO, we’re not adding anymore kids to the mix! I was trying to be coy, but I’ll just tell you - there’ll be another fun giveaway this weekend. Sorry for misleading you!