Memorial's nursing faculty helps in Vietnam

by Sharon Gray

The difficulties in delivering primary health care in Vietnam were made clear during a public lecture given by two visitors from that country.

Memorial's School of Nursing has close ties to Vietnam through a project that is developing a model of training to help Vietnam improve the quality of its primary health care.

The lecture on Oct. 2 in the School of Nursing outlined some of the challenges the Asian country faces in delivering adequate health care. Dr. Nguyen Phien, vice-director of human resources development with Vietnam's Ministry of Health, contrasted Newfoundland's small population to his country's 75 million inhabitants. In Vietnam's rural areas, there are only three nurses per 5,000 people.

"Our economy has suffered because of war and for primary health care we have to select a model suitable to our situation," said Dr. Phien.

Four faculty members from Memorial's School of Nursing are helping to do that through a $1.2 million project funded partially by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Dr. Lan Gien is project director. She is working with nursing school colleagues Purnima Sen, Dr. Maureen Laryea and Judy Blakely, in collaboration with Vietnam's Central Medical Technology School 1, to improve the education of Vietnam's primary health care workers. The Memorial team will also help prepare selected graduates to offer training at other rural health training centres.

Dr. Hoang D. Phan, director of the Secondary Technical Medical School 1, said health care workers need to educate Vietnamese citizens on how to change unhealthy habits to prevent common diseases.

Dr. Phien and Dr. Phan said the goal in Vietnam is to provide acceptable health care to all citizens by the year 2000 and motivate every community to participate in its own health care.

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