A song to FSH!



I think the first time I met the Friendship Science and Health (FSH) members was in 2005. This meeting took place when Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong was required to tell about the progress of her PhD project on the occasion of my bi-yearly visit to Hanoi Medical University (HMU). I was told that Dr. Huong and other doctoral students in the “Common Diseases in Vietnam project” financed by the Swedish government had trained medical students as their research assistants…  I was full of expectation when some members of FSH came to present themselves together with Dr. Huong, the group establisher. Usually, PhD students come alone to our project office at HMU but this time Dr. Huong came along with three FSH members. Though none of us could foresee how far this group will get and what fruits would be made by them in the future, it was a really a big surprise to me. Huong and these very first FSH members told me about the group’s origin, their activities in research and also in social life through a presentation prepared in English. I was strongly impressed and had a great joy in seeing these young students and doctors who had so much dedication, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and to be involved in Dr. Huong’s research project. From her side, Huong inspired others with her usual big smile, joviality and leadership qualities. Some days later I met nearly the whole student group during a nice get-together, and I got to know more about the dedication of Dr. Huong to FSH as well as the corresponding commitment of the FSH members.

The next time I came to Vietnam, it must have been in 2006, FSH had grown substantially with some senior members becoming physicians or resident doctors, their projects expanded in topics and qualities, their training courses for new members after a selection process. I got insights in how some members transmit knowledge to others, how own initiatives were encouraged and more importantly, I realised how dynamic the group was. All FSH members were very serious in their work, reflected by their commitments, and at the same time they had an enormous amount of fun together. Later, I came to know that FSH had a weekly schedule for scientific discussions at Dr. Huong´s house on Saturdays, good weather or bad weather…, looking forwards to the next meeting.

Besides the so-called “official works”, FSH members could discuss about their career in depth with Dr. Huong who closely follows her students despite her heavy work load. A very brilliant sign is that all FSH members who had graduated had good career possibilities regardless they work in Vietnam or abroad. Also, all the graduated members desire to contribute with their own resources to the sake of FSH! Many of them still remain active members after 6 years of medical education. To me, this is the obvious symbol of responsibilities and gratefulness – it will ensure FSH to continue flourishing in spite of the fact that part of the leadership has been delegated to younger members.

Wishing to congratulate Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong with her fantastic FSH group, wishing to congratulate FSH members to be part of FSH, wishing to congratulate all members with their inspiring founder, wishing to congratulate HMU for having students that get both nourished and inspired by FSH, wishing that FSH members continue to enjoy and propagate the spirit of FSH, wishing Vietnam to receive many benefits of letting flourish initiatives like FSH!

With gratefulness to FSH and wishing FSH to continue to flourish!

Stockholm, in August, 2010

Ingeborg van der Ploeg

Associate professor at Karolinska Insitutet

Honorary professor at Hanoi Medical University