Training Primary Health Care Workers

UPCD Tier 2 Project 098/S47074-167,
funded by the Government of Canada through the
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
and operated by

Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Finalist for The Bill McWhinney Award of Excellence in International Development (in 2004)

Canada-Vietnam Partnership

Canada: Memorial University

Dr. Lan Gien, Director

Prof. Purnima Sen

Dr. Maureen Laryea Ms. Vu T. Duong

Prof. Judith Blakeley

Secondary Technical Medical School 1 (STMS1) - THKTYT1

Dr. Hoang Dr. Phan, Co-Director

Dr. Vu D. Chinh, Co-Director (2000- 2002)

Dr. Pham N. Lan


CIDA: $749,257

In-kind contributions: $430,966

Others: $237,600

Total: $1,417,823

This project aims to train primary health care workers for rural Vietnam and to enhance the capacity of the Vietnamese Secondary Technical Medical School 1 so that it will continue to train workers when the project finishes. The STMS1 is a recognized rural training centre, operated by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, which trains health care professionals for rural North Vietnam. The Memorial University of Newfoundland's School of Nursing will provide current knowledge of primary health care, community health, and teaching methodologies based on its experience in working with nurses in the ports of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Background and Rationale

Socio-political factors have adversely affected Vietnam's progress for several decades. People's health in VN has suffered as a result as has the economy. VN recognizes health as a precondition for the country's total development and has identified PHC as the cornerstone for improving health (80% of the population live in rural areas). Consequently, the VN government's national health policy is currently focusing on consolidating the strengthening the PHC network.

The project incorporates a model of training the PHCWs which was successfully pilot tested by the STMS1 (1991-95). It involved voluntary workers whose commitment may not be long-lasting. To enable STMS1 to produce a stable, better qualified and sustainable workforce in PHC, the school needs new knowledge in preventative health care and health promotion.

MUN's School of Nursing has the ability to train health care professionals to serve the rural and remote areas. It will be applying its recent experience and knowledge gained from developing PHC in Newfoundland which emphasizes health promotion and community-based care.

Project Purpose and Goal

The goal of this project is to strengthen the existing network of primary healthcare by improving both the quality and quantity of PHC workers in order to improve the health of populations living in rural areas.

Specific Objectives

  • To train the primary health care workers (PHCWs) of rural Vietnam
  • To enhance the capacity of the STMS1 to sustain the PHCW's training program
  • To heighten awareness of the importance of research in health

Anticipated Results

  • Increased current knowledge of PHC at STMS1 and health care clinics.
  • Improved English language skills amongst STMS1 staff enabling increased access to western literature and publications to continue broadening knowledge.
  • Better qualified STMS1 teachers able to deliver new training program.
  • STMS1 able to contribute to decision-making in health care at provincial and district levels; increased advocacy for PHC in Vietnam.
  • On-going research projects at MOH/STMS1 and STMS1/Memorial
  • PHCWs with increased knowledge in health promotion, self-care, self-help and health education; more trained PHCWs.
  • Improved management of health care clinics; clinics better able to communicate with the community and counsel clients on health care matters.
  • Internationalization of teaching, research and curriculum at each of the partner institutions.
  • Increased opportunities for extended North-South and South-South collaboration.

Project Activities

  • Joint curriculum development and course preparation
  • Joint delivery of 3 nine-month program on PHC in Vietnam (to 20 Vietnamese each program)
  • Graduate Studies (Master's) in PHC management at Mahidol University, Thailand
  • 3-month course (in Canada) in community health and teaching methodologies for 9 PHCWs
  • Series of 8 workshops in Vietnam
  • English language training for students and faculty of STMS1
  • Procurement of equipment



This project enhances the understanding of the interaction between the environment (physical, emotional, social, cultural, economic) and health and encourages interventions to maintain an environment conductive to health. In Vietnam, contaminated water and inadequate sewage disposals have been associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Educating the public in good hygiene and sanitation may not be adequate without clean water and a good drainage system. For this reason, a civil engineer will advise the project on this important aspect of improving the environment. This interdisciplinary approach is one of the key factors for successful dealing with complex issues such as environment and health. Other aspects of the environment such as garbage/waste disposal, air/noise pollution, and their roles in health will also be addressed.

Women in Development

This project facilitates, directly and indirectly, women's advancement in both VN and Canada by improving their education and employment opportunities, which in turn reduces poverty and simultaneously improves health services for VN rural women. Improvements in women's advancement, health, education and employment are mutually reinforcing. It is the key to improve family well-being.

Women will benefit in several ways: women and children will be primary beneficiaries as recipients of the services of trained PHCWs; the trainees include nurses and midwives who are mostly women who will gain more knowledge and skills in PHC. Women play key roles in decision-making, planning, management, training and evaluation of the project.


Centre for International Nursing

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000