One of the major tragedies of the Vietnamese war seldom makes the headlines. It involves?
One of the major tragedies of the Vietnamese war seldom makes the headlines. It involves the tens of thousands of people who are mutilated in the conflict, both soldiers and civilians. Four rehabilitation centres have been set up to treat the limbless and help them to adapt to a new way of life.
Last year, these centres examined 10,000 patients, and fitted 8,500 with artificial limbs or braces. An estimated eighty per cent of those treated were civilians.
Visnews has been looking into the treatment offered by these centres and into the after-care service, which offers vocational training enabling the limbless to take up jobs from welders to switchboard operators.
SYNOPSIS: Every year, thousands of people -- both soldiers and civilians -- are mutilated in the Vietnam war. It's one of the major tragedies of the conflict. And it's getting worse. The number of civilian casualties in Indo-China is now higher than ever before.
Four rehabilitation centres have been set up by the government in South Vietnam to bring some relief to the limbless. This one's in Saigon. In the first instance the patients are examined to see what treatment is needed and whether they can be fitted with an artificial limb.
Last year, the four centres examine ten-thousand patients and fitted eight and a half thousand of them with artificial limbs or braces. The centres estimate that eighty per cent of the patients are civilians, the rest soldiers. But a worrying aspect is the number of civilians mutilated who fail to take advantage of the rehabilitation centres. In isolated areas, many stay in their villages supported by their families. Some try to fashion crude artificial limbs of their own. Others don't bother. They try to turn the loss of their limbs into a means of existence, and join the flocks of beggars on the city streets.
Each of the four rehabilitation centres has its own vocational training programme, to help the limbless adapt to new ways of life. Many train as welders, motor mechanics or in a variety of technical and maintenance jobs.
Thirty-two-year-old Pham van Cang was wounded during the fighting in 1965. He's something of an exception in this film. He received treatment in the United States and trained with a watch firm while he was there. But just as the war is being increasingly Vietnamised, so is the treatment given to its victims.