Professor Le Cao Dai, M.D., one of Vietnam's premier researchers on the effects of Agent Orange on human health and recently retired director of Vietnam's Agent Orange Victims Fund, died on April 15, 2002 after a short illness. He was seventy-four.
Born in Hanoi, Dr. Dai studied medicine in the northern highlands of Vietnam during the Resistance War against the French. During the U.S. War, he directed North Vietnamese Army Field Hospital 211 in the western highlands of central Vietnam south of the demilitarized zone. His journal, "Tay Nguyen Ngay Ay" ("The Western Highlands During Those Days"), published by Hanoi's Labour Publishing House in 1997, is a vivid portrayal of the war between 1965 and 1973.
Dr. Dai later served as director of the 108 Military Hospital, one of Hanoi's most prestigious medical centers.
Dr. Dai personally observed the first effects of defoliant spraying during the Vietnam War. He was a founding member of the 1080 Committee, which studies the long-term consequences of defoliant spraying on human health. His research, conducted in partnership with U.S. scientists, was published in Chemosphere, the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine. Dr. Dai also presented his findings as a panelist at the 1999 annual conference of the American Public Health Association. He is the author of "Agent Orange in the Viet Nam War: History and Consequences," translated by Diane Fox and published in 2000 by the Vietnam Red Cross. Dr. Dai also served on the steering committee for the conference, "Long-Term Environmental Consequences of the Vietnam War," which was held in Stockholm at the end of July 2002.
Dr. Dai firmly believed that those who were victims of Agent Orange should receive assistance. He directed the Agent Orange Victims Fund under the auspices of the Vietnam Red Cross from the fund's inception in 1998 until shortly before his death. The Agent Orange Victims Fund provides humanitarian assistance to victims and their families, including financial support, health care and vocational training. The Ford Foundation and the American Red Cross have been generous contributors, as have individuals and organizations from Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and other countries.
Dr. Le Cao Dai is survived by his wife of nearly fifty years, the artist Vu Giang Huong.
Those wishing to contribute to the Agent Orange Victims Fund in honor of Dr. Le Cao Dai can do so by contacting the Fund directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.