from Viet Nam
June 14, 1999
Ha Noi "We look at our work differently now, we recognize the need for it to be credible, reaching out to people who need our services, rather than waiting for them to come to us".
The new concept will also help eliminate the health workers' attitude of giving preferential treatment to some people and the needy will not hesitate to approach health care workers, say Phan Thi Hụng from HCM City and Nguyen Thi Hang from Hai Pḥng.
Both are beneficiaries of a nine-month training course in primary health care, part of a US$1.2 million project conceived by a Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese), Dr, Lan Tran Gien. The training course is due to complete this month.
The two health care workers say the course enhanced their knowledge of primary health care and that they will be able to impart it to other teachers at their respective institutions.
Dr. Gien who works at the School of Nursing in Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, returned to her native country in the early nineties and saw the urgent need to improve primary health care in rural areas.
The project she formulated to achieve this was approved by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and supported by her university.
CIDA provided US$749,257 for the project and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada contributed the rest of the sum.
The four year project, which began in 1997, aims to strengthen the existing primary health care network by improving both the quality and quantity of health care workers in the sector.
The school is a recognized centre under the Health Ministry, training health care professionals to work in rural northern Viet Nam.
The project has so far selected 18 nursing teachers to attend the training course on a scholarship, provided English teachers, organized workshops and conferences on primary health care, environment and health, and sent some students on a 3-month study tour of Canada.
Anna Grieve, head trainer at the course, told Viet Nam News that she was impressed with the knowledge level, capacity and diligence and commitment of the trainers.
They have "unlimited potential", she said.
She said the trainers needed to continue developing assertiveness and confidence in a health care system that is traditionally dominated by the physician.
"As these students begin to believe in themselves and their abilities to make meaningful changes to health care delivery, the outcomes of this programme will be far reaching."
Nursing education will change, focusing less on the medical model and more on teaching and disease and accident prevention."
They also need increased access to English instruction to be able to participate actively in the International Council of Nurses, she said. VNS