Army medic Major offers free treatment to thousands of poor fishermen and their families
Khanh treats a man with a deformed spinal column. Photo courtesy of Ninh Cong Khanh
Since he signed up with the border guard force in 1995, army medic Major Ninh Cong Khanh has provided free treatment to thousands of poor fishermen and their families in Hoa Hiep Bac Ward in Lien Chieu District, Da Nang City, where he served at the Hai Van border guard post.
Khanh, 45, who studied at the military medical school in 2007, was assigned as a physician at the coastal post to provide healthcare and treatment to the soldiers on duty. He has focused on non-drug therapies for ill or injured fishermen who can’t make it to a hospital in the city for health check or simple treatment.
Many elderly and poor people in Lien Chieu District come to see Khanh for treatment. Photo courtesy of Ninh Cong Khanh
“I am experienced in non-drug therapies such as acupuncture and massage of the spinal column, which helps ease the pain,” Khanh explained. “The work of a fisherman is very physical and they often suffer from back problems.”
“The post sets aside medicine to help local people with examinations and treatment in a joint military-civilian healthcare service, and I provide the acupuncture for free.”
Most fishermen suffer from herniated discs in their backs and acute arthritis, which can be eased with massage to the vertebrae.
Khanh’s help is completely free, with a donation box allowing those who can contribute something to do so.
“The fishermen earn very little money from a very hard job, so a little help in healthcare is appreciated,” the Major said.
“The money in the donation box goes towards buying more medicine and treatment equipment and paying water and power bills.”
He has succeeded in treating some serious cases with acupuncture, which has helped patients get back to something close to a normal life.
Le Thi Thanh Hien, 37, was paralyzed in a motorbike accident in 2006 and was bed-ridden for years.
Khanh saw that her elderly old parents were struggling to provide her with proper rehabilitation.
Hien’s father, fisherman Le Van Giau, brought her to the post’s medical room in late 2012 in the hope of receiving some treatment.
After undergoing spinal column acupuncture and rehabilitation therapies for a year, Hien was able to take a few steps and has reclaimed a degree of mobility.
“He saved my daughter,” Giau said. “It just wasn’t possible for us to cover the cost of her treatment at hospital. My wife collected every penny she could at the fish market but it was never enough. I didn’t believe in Khanh’s treatment methods at first, but our dreams came true and Hien started to recover.”
“We have two children, and our boy has mental problems that require life-long treatment. I worked hard to cover my family’s living costs and the children’s treatment.”
Tran Thi Nong, 59, has also received free treatment for a herniated disc, arthritis, and cervical spondylitis in Khanh’s medical room for the last five years.
“I come here for 30 minutes of acupuncture every day,” she said. “It helps dull the pain I’ve suffered from carrying heavy loads most of my life.”
“We pay almost nothing for the therapy, but put a little in the donation box when we can so that other poor people can benefit from Khanh’s treatment.”
Maj Khanh has now been assigned to the city’s border guard logistics section, so travels 20km each day in his free time to continue providing treatment to the poor in Lien Chieu District.
He could do very well by putting his skills to use in the private healthcare system, but the pain he sees the poor endure encourages him to continue with his “free” practice.
The 45-year-old physician hopes that young people will follow in his footsteps by giving a helping hand to the underprivileged.
Khanh’s eldest daughter, now a teenager, accompanies him every day and is picking up basic skills. She will hopefully be able to help many people throughout her life.
The medic and his team also do what they can to treat infections and diseases, train other military medical staff as well as traditional medicine practitioners, and use advanced technology in healthcare when at all possible.
He has received a Certificate of Merit from the Prime Minister for his sterling efforts, and this year was voted one of 20 outstanding citizens by the Da Nang City People’s Committee.