The Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital (HCMCOH) was founded in 1985 and rapidly became one of two major cancer centers in Vietnam. The HCMCOH has a staff of 1400 including 320 oncologists, 612 nurses and others. The hospital is responsible for cancer care in the south of Vietnam: focusing on radiation therapy (4 linacs, 01 cobalt machines and 03 HDR after loading units), surgery (12 operating rooms, most kinds of surgery can be done) and chemotherapy.
In 2009, the Department of Palliative Care was established and staffed with four physicians and 24 nurses. This was the first department of palliative care in Vietnam, and became one of the models of palliative care development in the country. This department has just 12 beds, however is has made huge progress in end-of-life care for cancer patients by providing adequate pain control, psychological support and palliative care training for medical staff, not only at the hospital but also for staff from other hospitals. The HCMCOH launched a home care service in September 2011.
At HCMCOH, staff provides patients with a multidisciplinary approach including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The HCMCOH is also an affiliate of the medical schools in Ho Chi Minh City – providing training for undergraduates, post graduates and physicians from other provinces who want to be oncologists. Palliative Care is a new area in cancer care, however it has been making a big progress during recent years. In addition, the centre is also involved in some research activites in collaboration with some international settings.
Supportive and Palliative Medicine
The goal is to expand palliative care at a national level by:
- Establishing key palliative care settings in oncology hospitals and general hospitals
- Developing home care services at district level hospitals
- Providing palliative care training for house staff and clinicians from other hospitals, plus training for medical and nursing students, and post graduates
- In collaboration with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, create a department of palliative medicine in the future, so palliative care would be considered as a speciality. This would facilitate training and the expansion and development of palliative care services to meet the needs of patients.