US professor passes, ending years of dedication to Vietnam's healthcare

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A US professor and an honored advocate for increased healthcare services for Vietnam's rural communities died from a stroke Friday at 74.

Before she died, Judith Ladinsky expressed her wish that her ashes be spread in Vietnam, the country she supported unceasingly since 1980.

As a professor at the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Wisconsin and national chair of the US Committee for Scientific Cooperation with Vietnam and Laos, Ladinsky visited Vietnam at least 106 times, after first accepting an invitation from the late Vietnamese doctor Ton That Tung and most recently in January of last year, according to a Saigon Tiep Thi report.

During that period, she became one of the best known Americans in Vietnam for her dedication to healthcare for rural Vietnamese.

The professor inspired many American scientists to support Vietnam, especially to the healthcare services in rural areas, which are notorious for lacking doctors and equipment.

She established programs including community health services, post-natal healthcare, surgeries, nutrition education, HIV/AIDS awareness and oncology. Much medical technology was brought to Vietnam as part of the projects she spearheaded.

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And her support was not limited to the field of healthcare. Her contribution involved agriculture, science, social sciences, and culture as well.

Since 1989, Ladinsky helped more than 300 Vietnamese students and researchers win scholarships at schools in the US and Canada.

Her US home at Varsity Hill in Madison, Wisconsin is referred to as "Vietnam Hotel," by many Vietnamese students and scientists, as it has hosted many of them. Ladinsky held a Thanksgiving dinner party for all the Vietnamese students at the University of Wisconsin.

Ladinsky was a mentor to many Vietnamese students, not only in their studies, but also in dealing with daily life, such as finding apartments to rent and dealing with visas.

Her contributions were recognized by the Vietnamese government with five national medals, including a Friendship Medal from former president Tran Duc Luong, one for her support for education, another for her campaign for women's rights and one for her contribution to the development of Vietnam's science and technology.

Last year, the Wisconsin Network of Peace and Justice named her "Peacemaker of the Year" to honor her long and continuing contributions to Vietnam's healthcare system.

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