Vietnam doctor honored by Nikkei Asia

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Vietnam doctor, China environmentalist and India reformer honored. All three made contributions to fighting stubborn ills in their societies

A Chinese founder of an online pollution database, a Vietnamese doctor who brings life-changing treatments to children and an Indian reformer who fights the curse of poor sanitation received awards here on Wednesday recognizing outstanding Asians. Nikkei reports

The Nikkei Asia Prizes are given to individuals and groups in Asia that have made outstanding contributions to the region’s development. This year was 23rd time they were awarded.

Vietnamese doctor Nguyen Thanh Liem, called the father of pediatric medicine in Vietnam, won the prize for science and technology in recognition of his work advancing health care for children.

“We can change the lives of many children suffering from what were said to be incurable diseases in the past,” Liem said, showing a video of a girl with cerebral palsy who is being treated with stem cell transplants and is now starting to walk on her own.

Liem performed Asia’s first laparoscopic surgery on a child. Commonly used on adults, the procedure involves making small incisions in the abdomen, but is more difficult to perform on children because their bodies are smaller, leaving less room to work.

Having learned minimally invasive surgery from French pioneer Philippe Mouret, Liem was determined to “bring pediatric endoscopic surgery to Vietnam” to reduce the need for major procedures that leave serious pain and scars. In 2014, he became one of pioneers in using stem cell transplants to treat serious disorders such as cerebral palsy. He now serves as director of the Vinmec Research Institute of Stem Cell and Gene Technology in Vietnam.

The Nikkei Asia Prizes were created in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei’s main Japanese language newspaper. Past winners include Manmohan Singh, who won in 1997 before becoming India’s prime minister, and Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, who was honored in 2004 and went on to receive the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the concept of microfinance.

For more information on the award and past winners, visit http://www.nikkei-events.jp/asiaprizes/en/index.html

by ERI SUGIURA, Nikkei staff writer, edited by Dean Dougn