In late May of 2002 I participated in a national conference on Primary Health Care in Hai Duong, about 60 miles east of Hanoi. Hai Duong is the town for our project site, hence it was appropriate to organize the conference there. Our Vietnam partner was STMS 1, now Medical Technical College 1 (MTC), who locally coordinated the conference and was responsible for daily operation of the conference which was no mean a small task.
The conference was a great success. Every province was represented indicating the interest in Primary Health Care is wide spread in the country. Hai Duong's Cultural centre was the conference venue and shuttle bus service was provided for the delegates to attend the conference and other related activities. Besides Canadian partners of the project, delegates came from Thailand and Malaysia as well.
The Minister of Health opened the conference with greetings from Vietnam Ministry of Health. Several international, national and regional dignitaries including the President of Vietnam Nurses Association and the representative of the World Health Organization and that of Canada's Ambassador brought greetings and emphasized the importance of Primary Health Care to attain the goal of "Health for All".
The two days conference had a full schedule, all of the students who completed their Masters Degree Program at Mahidol University in Thailand presented their theses work which was very impressive. More impressive for me was papers presented by other nurses who are working in different acute care settings in the country. Very few of them have even a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing. Their research methodology was simple but it is good starting with immense potential for the future. All Vietnamese presented their paper in Vietnamese language which was simultaneously translated in English. The interpreters were efficient and Vietnam used all the current technology for the conference.
It is a personal perspective because I am privileged to witness the change from 1997 to the current developmental stage of the country. Dr. Lan Gien, Project Director and I visited Hai Duong in 1997 for project planning after receiving our CIDA Grant. The high spirit of hope and optimism is palpable. Not only the health sector but all sectors of society appeared to have a high energy level. Presence of delegates from every province and participation by many of these delegates clearly indicate the importance they place on Primary Health Care.
*The conference was organized as one of the closing activities of the five-year funded international project "Training Primary health Care Workers in rural Vietnam"