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May 20, 2004
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Health service delivery to rural Vietnam
Reducing poverty

(L-R) Dr. Alice Gaudine, Dr. Maureen Laryea, Marilyn Beaton, Dr. Lan Gien and Judith Blakely.
Photo by HSIMS
Five faculty members in the School of Nursing are involved in the latest project in Vietnam. (L-R) Dr. Alice Gaudine, Dr. Maureen Laryea, Marilyn Beaton, Dr. Lan Gien and Judith Blakely.

By Sharon Gray
Faculty at the School of Nursing have received $4.5 million over five years from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for a project to reduce poverty and enhance nursing education in Vietnam. Drs. Lan Gien and Maureen Laryea have just returned from a three-week visit to Vietnam to get the project started.

“Over 80 per cent of Vietnam’s population lives in rural areas,” said Dr. Gien. “We will work with CIDA and nursing faculty in Vietnam to reduce poverty through revitalizing primary health care. The project focuses on improving the health of rural and ethic persons living in two provinces in Vietnam. Women’s health and community mental health are specifically targeted in this project.”

Several approaches will be used to meet the goals of this program. “First, primary healthcare will be added to the bachelor of nursing curriculum in Vietnam,” said Dr. Gien. “This will be facilitated by furthering primary health education of Vietnamese nursing faculty. Also a number of Vietnamese nursing faculty will be supported while they obtain master’s or doctoral degrees in nursing.”

The project will also involve other faculty coming to Memorial to share experiences about curriculum development, teaching, research skills and clinical practices.

“Memorial faculty and graduate students will also work with health professionals in Vietnam to develop primary care approaches that are culturally sensitive. This will include community outreach to rural women and other disadvantaged groups,” said Dr. Gien.

“This project is advantageous to Memorial University students and to the province, as well as to Vietnam,” she noted. “Memorial graduate nursing students will have the opportunity to teach nursing students or to provide primary health care in Vietnam. Students will have the opportunity to work on research projects that are designed to measure the success of primary health care interventions.”

These research skills, said Dr. Gien, will be useful to evaluate Newfoundland and Labrador’s health strategy to improve accessibility to services, to reduce inequality in health and “ultimately to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of our healthcare system.

“The exchange of primary health care strategies among health professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador and Vietnam should lead to identifying innovative approaches to care. Furthermore, the skills in cross-cultural and international work gained from this project will be beneficial for all involved, especially in this era of rapid globalization.”

Dr. Gien said that poverty reduction has been one of Vietnam’s top priorities in recent years. “Despite the economic success in the past decade, poverty reduction has not been uniform and economic disparity is widening between the urban and rural areas, between different regions and among various ethnic groups. Due to lack of access to resources and decision-making power, vulnerable groups that have not benefited from this progress are the poor, the ethnic minority, women, children, elderly, the handicapped and disabled. Our project is a contribution to the Vietnam government’s effort to further reduce the poverty rate, especially in the rural and remote areas where most of the ethic minority live, and to narrow existing social gaps.”

Memorial’s School of Nursing team is led by Dr. Gien, who has been in charge of two other CIDA projects in Vietnam. She has been recognized for her impact on health care in Vietnam, receiving the national medal for the people’s health from the Vietnamese government.


 


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