| Boiling Point No. 23 - December 1990 |
by Tim Jones,ITDG Ceramist
It all started with a call at the ITDG offices, "there are three ladies here who would like to talk to someone about heating a hospital in the middle of Vietnam at Ky Anh!" About seven months later I found myself in the same hospital talking to the staff The heating of a hospital was quite a tall order, especially using appropriate technology. I did research into a system that might have done the job but when I arrived at the hospital the new wing was far more advanced than was expected. It would have needed a lot of knocking about for the heating to be put in, and the director and staff at the hospital did not in any way consider heating to be necessary. It just seems that hospitals are not heated and never have been in Vietnam, despite the cold damp weather that continues for a large part of the year. The hospitals are such open buildings (because of the very hot period of the year when ventilation is a priority) that any heating would just blow away anyway. The only heating that was apparent in the hospital was in the maternityward where the pregnant mothers who were waiting to deliver were being warmed on their beds by metal bowls of hot ashes being placed under them, as though they were being gently barbecued!
There was no need for any improved cooking facility as the hospital did not prepare meals for the patients. Hospital care was no longer provided by the state but had to be paid for by all but the very poor who were helped a little with certain costs. So all the patients' food was prepared by relatives and brought into the hospital.
The lady who ran the maternity ward spoke up however when I had explained what I did and asked if it was possible to have a water heater that could heat 50 litres of water as fast as possible for when the ladies came in to give birth. Also it was agreed that the hot water could be used to sterilize the instruments for the operating theatre. The type of fuel to be used was debated at some length and wood was decided upon as the most readily available and suitable. I spent a lot of time with drawings and discussion on what and how the heater should be built and a site for it was decided on. Also we left money for the materials and labour so,