At the event, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) and deputy head of the VUFO’s Committee on Foreign NGO Affairs Don Tuan Phong highlighted the fact that the MCNV is the first foreign non-governmental organisation to operate in Vietnam when the country was struggling to gain independence, supplying the country with medical equipment, medicine and medical experts.
The committee’s assistance to Vietnam has continued until today, with a focus on poverty alleviation and sustainable development in the past ten years, he said.
For his part, Pieter van den Bergh, representative from the MCNV’s advisory board, said that the committee has carried out a line-up of projects to support the poor, ethnic minority groups and women with HIV/AIDS. Since 2017, it has expanded the scope of work to climate change adaptation and development of businesses and value chains.
He added that the MCNV has been active in 14 cities and provinces across the country.
With such significant contributions, the committee is to date the first-ever international organisation to be conferred with four Friendship Orders by the Vietnamese President. The orders were presented to the MCNV in 1977, 1993, 2004 and 2018.
At the celebration, the committee organised a conference revolving on sustainable development in the new context, drawing the participation of representatives from the United Nations as well as Vietnamese experts.
The Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam was founded by a group of Dutch medical doctors, namely Professor Jaap de Haas, Dr. Nick van Rhijn and Dr. Fred Groening founded. They were indignant about the Americans’ technological warfare in Vietnam and distressed by the suffering of the Vietnamese people. MCNV’s goal was to offer large-scale medical help to the worst hit areas in Vietnam.
In 1973, MCNV had 67,000 donors, who had already donated a good 4 million euros. The aid initially consisted of sending medical supplies and medicines. After the Vietnam war ended in 1975, relief aid was provided for a few more years.
In 1973, under the leadership of Nick van Rhijn, MCNV made the first plan for donating a hospital to Quang Tri, the province hardest hit by the war. With the support of Dutch donors, the Minister for Developing Countries Jan Pronk and all the Dutch universities, building could begin in 1974. In 1977, the Holland Hospital in Dong Ha was officially opened.
Postwar notable contributions of the committee were its efforts to fight tuberculosis in 1983 and malaria in 1987.
Currently, the committee is working with the Handicap International to carry out a project to help Vietnam build quality human resources for health care and rehabilitation.