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Enriching the resource for Speech and Language Therapy research in Vietnam

Findings from the graduation theses of Vietnam’s first 14 Masters of Speech and Language Therapy were briefly presented in a hybrid workshop titled “SALT: Sharing findings from some research in Vietnam”.

The workshop was jointly organized by MCNV and HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy (UMP) in HCMC on April 28th, 2022, bringing together around 140 participants, including: MSc.MD. Nguyen Phuong Hien (The Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Training), Ms.Ritu Tariyal (Director of Reconciliation and Inclusive Development Department, United States International Aid for Development); Professor (Prof) Doctor (Dr) Lindy McAllister (University of Sydney, Board of the Trinh Foundation Australia); Associate (Assoc) Prof.Dr. Nguyen Van Chinh, Head of the Nursing – Medical Technology Department, HCMC UMP; Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Dung, Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicines; MSc.MD. Le Quang Duong, Director of VietHealth, MSc.MD.Pham Dung, Country Director of MCNV Vietnam together with SALT international experts, lecturers, volunteers, clinical coach, mentors, interpreters and the trainees graduated from the course.

Participants at the workshop on April 28th, 2022

The workshop aimed to briefly present the research findings from the graduation theses of the first Master of SALT (MSALT), HCMC UMP. The completion of the course marks a historic milestone of SALT in Vietnam, since it is the first time MSALT curriculum is provided in the country. This achievement is an outcome of the project “Developing SALT education in Vietnam” sponsored by USAID via VietHealth and implemented by MCNV with the technical support from the Trinh Foundation Australia. 

Ms.Ritu Tariyal (Director of Reconciliation and Inclusive Development Department, USAID) participates in the workshop.

Since its rollout in late 2017, thanks to the thorough preparation and active participation of multi stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Education and Training and Ministry of Health, the first MSALT training program was kick started in November 2019 and accomplished its goal in November 2021 when all the 14 trainees successfully completed their graduation thesis defense. 

Assoc.Prof. Nguyen Van Chinh, Head of the Nursing – Medical Technology Department, HCMC UMP speaks at the workshop

Their research cover a wide range of topic in SALT, ranging from aphasia, experiences in self-help and help-seeking of families who have children with communication disability, experience of community-based rehab staff, stuttering in adults, normative data for the Vietnamese language screener for four-year-old, speech sound characteristics of children with speech sound disorders, etc.

Dr.Pham Dung, MCNV Country Director speaks at the workshop.

In addition to sharing findings from the MSALT graduation theses, the workshop served as a platform for SALT specialists to exchange the views and present their latest in-depth research such as “The Vietnamese Asphasia Test” (Dr.Le Khanh Dien, (Asia Pacific Society of Speech, Language and Hearing) and the  “Effect of dialects on identification and severity of speech sound disorders in Vietnamese children”  (Dr.Pham Thi Ben – National University of Education).

Other issues related to the long-term development of SALT in Vietnam were put into discussion such as preparing for the next cohort, the significance of establishing SALT Association in Vietnam, etc, aiming at the ultimate goal which is adequately meet with the demand of patients, persons with disabilities, the clients of SALT in Vietnam.

Research presentation: Experiences in self-help and help-seeking of families who have children with communication disability in HCMC and Quang Nam
Presentation of research: Experience of community-based rehab staff in working with people with communication and swallowing difficulties.

* In the morning of April 29th, the official graduation ceremony of the first MSALT was held by HCMC UMP followed by a cordial congratulation event held by MCNV.

(First row, from the right) Ms.Nguyen Thi Hoa Le (USAID), Ms. Ngo Y Sa (SALT Project Interpreter), Prof.Dr.Lindy McAllister (TFA Board), Mr. Pham Dung (MCNV Country Director), Mr. Le Quang Duong (VietHealth Director), Ms.Nguyen Phuong Hien (Ministry of Education and Training) participate in the graduation ceremony of 14 SALT students in HCMC UMP.
14 MSALT at the graduation ceremony in HCMC UMP on April 29th, 2022.
Participants at the congratulation ceremony held by MCNV on the same day.

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Combining community-based tourism with sustainable forests management in Quang Tri

MCNV recently joined with local authorities in organizing an event to kick start community-based ecotourism in combination with FSC®-certified sustainable forest management in Chenh Venh village, Huong Phung commune, Huong Hoa district. The event brought together representatives of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Culture, Sports & Tourism, the Forest control department and the Center of Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion of Huong Hoa district and relevant departments.

A pavilion selling local specialties.

The event was a chance for the participants to expose to exotic eco-tourism services directly provided by Chenh Venh village, such as visiting the campsite in Sa Muoi hill, Chenh Venh waterfall and stream, trekking through natural forests managed by the community, Ro Ve village picnic site while learning about the indigenous cultures embodied in local authentic dishes and performing arts.

In order to put the entire ecotourism services into operation, MCNV and the People’s Committee of Huong Hoa district and Huong Phung commune have spent the last six months assisting Chenh Venh village and the Community Forest Board of the village in the preparation process. Key support includes: converting local residential houses into homestay, installing camping infrastructures (tents, bedding ), restoring the stream bank landscape, installing sign boards, building sanitary facilities, providing training on community-based tourism services, culinary skills, etc.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Chair of Huong Hoa district People’s Committee, Mr. Pham Trong Ho highlighted the advantages of Chenh Venh village in developing community- based tourism, thanks to its magnificent natural landscape and distinctive indigenous culture. He also appreciated MCNV’s practical support, which is believed will lay out a solid foundation for the development of ecotourism in combination with sustainable forest management in the long run.

Mr. Nguyen Dinh Dai, Chief of MCNV Office in Quang Tri province gives his speech at the event.

According to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Dai, Chief of MCNV Office in Quang Tri province, Chenh Venh village comprises nearly 100 Bru Van Kieu households who oversee up to 1,000 hectare of forest. The jobs created and income generated from non-timber products, community-based tourism and ecosystem services play a significant role in helping the locals manage and protect the forest more effectively.

A lady of Van Kieu ethnic minority in traditional costumes.

Thanks to PROSPER project by MCNV and the European Union, in 2021, the community forests in Chenh Venh village and Ho village (Huong Son commune) have become Vietnam’s first community forests that received the FSC® certificate issued by the World Council of Forest.

 In the time to come, MCNV will continue to support Chenh Venh village in maintaining and developing community-based tourism. In detail, MCNV will help connect the beneficiaries with sponsors and responsible enterprises who are willing to pay for ecosystem services provided by this community, such as carbon absorption, biodiversity and water conservation./.

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GSRD – MCNV new partnership to benefit over 1,000 poor women and children in Phu Yen

A conference to kick start the project “Boosting income and jobs for poor ethnic women in Dong Xuan district” (BIJPO) was held on March 25th  by MCNV and Dong Xuan District People’s Committee.

Building on the achievements of the previous Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture project, BIJPO will be implemented in a period of 36 months, from April 2022 to April 2025.

A family in Dong Xuan district, Phu Yen province. Photo: MCNV

 BIJPO aims to tackle the new challenges confronting people of ethnic minorities living in remote mountainous areas brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. In particular, BIJPO will focus on boosting the income, improving food security via the improvement of working condition and agricultural production. The project will benefit about 650 women and 500 children of poor and nearly poor households in 15 villages of 6 communes in Dong Xuan district, and therefore, contribute directly to the realization of the National target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas in 2021-2030.

As part of the project, 15 new women-led cooperatives will be formally established and receive support in terms of making joint business plan and building joint assets/facilities for its production and business. Operation of the groups will create alternative jobs and income for the poor women in village who are willing to join and commit the common production plans of the groups. Potential business includes debarking machines of acacia wood; producing dry mushroom products; weaving products, etc.

 At the same time, the project will facilitate 30 household agricultural production groups. These informal groups will be set up and endorsed by local commune government. Each household production group will include around 15 poor and nearly poor households. The project will provide group members with agricultural production training courses; coaching; seedlings, breeding for improving current crops or implementing alternative cash and non-cash crops. Female members will work together to improve and diversify their household agricultural production such as rearing fish, frogs, chicken, ducks, crabs and planting acacia plantation, fruit trees (banana, papaya) vegetables, or pumpkin. The improved productions aim to create both cash and also non-cash income for these households.  The agricultural models will be identified and proposed by group members in accordance with local context and household conditions./.

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Magazine 2022-1

For a download of our magazine in Dutch click here.

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Developing clinical coaching guideline in Physical Therapy

In two days (March 19-20), a hybrid workshop on developing clinical coaching guideline in physical therapy (PT) was jointly held by MCNV and the Vietnam Physical Therapy Association (VNPTA).

The workshop attracted over 30 in-person and virtual participants from MCNV, VNPTA, VietHealth, VNAH, PT lecturers and experts from HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy (UMP), Da Nang University of Pharmacy and Medical Technology, Hong Bang International University and several hospitals in HCMC.

Participants at the workshop.

The workshop was held as part of the Inclusion 3, a project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) implemented in Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh and Dong Nai provinces, with an aim to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities (PWDs). The USAID’s prime counterpart is the National Action Centre for Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Treatment (NACCET) of the Ministry of National Defence. The implementing partner of the Inclusion 3 project is the Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP).

The quality of healthcare and rehabilitation services for PWDs are determined by several factors, of which the capacity of the services providers plays a key role.

As the project’s sub awardee, MCNV works with three technical partners including VNPTA, World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WP), and the Trinh Foundation Australia (TFA)  to enhance the capacity of rehabilitation workforce in Vietnam via coaching and mentoring activities in Physical Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy.

Speaking at the workshop, Mr Tran Van Dan, the VNPTA President, spoke highly of MCNV’s extensive experiences in Vietnam, especially in the area of rehabilitation capacity building, and looked forward to fruitful cooperation with MCNV to further improve the capacity of the country’s workforces specializing in the field of PT in particular and rehabilitation in general.

Mr. Tran Van Dan, the VNPTA President speaks at the workshop.

Subsequently, MCNV Vietnam Country Director, Mr Pham Dung briefed the partcipants on the coaching and mentoring activities. Conducted in 9 months, the coaching and mentoring will benefit 25 health workers who are providing PT services in provincial, district levels, public and private health facilities in Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh and Dong Nai. Entrance requirement ranges from six-month certificate holders to college and university degree holders in PT.

Mr.Pham Dung, MCNV Country Director speaks at the workshop.

The 160-hour coaching and mentoring will focus on clinical reasoning, communication skills to interact with colleagues in a multi-disciplinary team, up-to-date professional knowledge, advanced techniques, development of intervention plan, implementation and evaluation of intervention outcomes.

Via virtual platform and on-site coaching and mentoring, the program strives toward its ultimate goal, which is the enhancement of professional qualification of 25 health workers, who will be more confident in providing quality PT services to 900 patients and 250 PWDs.

Currently, a team of six coaches has been recruited and has completed an internationally-recognized mentoring and coaching course to prepare for the program.

Group discussion session.

In the workshop, the participants became involved in a lively discussion to develop the clinical coaching guideline and formulate a concrete plan for the 9-month program./.

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I-THRIVE project closed with significant outcomes

The Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP), the Deparments of Health in Thua Thien – Hue and Quang Nam province recently held the close-out ceremony for the project ‘Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Services Supporting Children with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities to thrive’ (I-Thrive).

Delegates from Quang Nam province.

The project I-Thrive is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, CCIHP being the implementing partner, and MCNV being the co-implementing partner.
The close-out event, held on February 2&3 brought together representatives of USAID, CCIHP, MCNV, the Medical Services Administration (Ministry of Health), Thua Thien – Hue and Quang Nam Deparment of Health, Da Nang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy, Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, and partner hospitals, medical centers in Thua Thien – Hue and Quang Nam.

After three years of implementation (Sep 2018-March 2022) the project has achieved a number of outcomes, in particular providing interdisciplinary rehabilitation capacity building and basic rehabilitation equipment to 100% of district-level health facilities of Thua Thien – Hue and 50% of district-level medical centers of Quang Nam province.

The capacity-building activities were conducted through a series of 12-month full-time training program in Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) and Physical Therapy (PT). These are also Vietnam’s first 12-month program in rehabilitation training.

Delegates from Thua Thien – Hue (left) and the Medical Services Administration.

Upon completion of the program, 56 trainees, who are healthworkers of province and district-level health facilities have returned to their workplace and applied what they have learnt to provide rehab services to 4.086 patients, of which PT, OT and SATL accounts for 89%, 41% and 6%, respectively.
Along with coaching, I-Thrive has created and implemented intervention program with the multi-disciplinary group in rehabilitation in province-level health facilities, participated by parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In addition, the project also achieved a significant milestone, which is the completion of the “National guideline on early identification and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder” and the “Guideline on mechanism of interdisciplinary rehabilitation team”.
These aforementioned outcomes are expected to lay a solid foundation for future projects in rehabilitation and provide the best support for personnes with disabilities./.

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CANTEEN case studies presented in closing workshop

Last December the CANTEEN program in Nong district in Laos was finalized with a closing workshop, in which most of the participants of the project attended: MCNV, EU, provincial and local authorities. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 travel restriction it wasn’t possible a delegation of the AFAS Foundation, Dutch funding partner of the project, nor anyone of MCNV head office, attended the meeting.

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Developing curriculum for 9-month course in Physical Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy

Delegates in the workshop on developing curriculum for 9-month SALT course.

February 24, 2022 – The Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and the University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy (UMTP) of Da Nang recently organized an online workshop on developing a 09-month course curriculum in Physical Therapy (PT) and Speech and Language Therapy (SALT).
The workshop had the participation of more than 29 delegates who were representatives of the Vietnam Rehabilitation Association; the United State Agency for International Development (USAID), the Center for Community Health Research and Development (CCRD), the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP), the Da Nang University of Medicine and Pharmacy Technology, Hospital of Northern Moutainous Quang Nam, Phu Ninh District Medical Center, Que Son District Medical Center.

The Project “Improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in provinces heavily sprayed with agent orange” (Inclusion Project) is funded by USAID, with the managing agency being the National Action Centre for Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Treatment (NACCET) under Chemical Command, the Ministry of Defense. CCIHP, CCRD are management awardees and MCNV is one of the implementation awardees, taking responsibility of implementing activities related to rehabilitation manpower enhancement in 8 provinces, including: Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Kon Tum, Binh Đinh, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh and Dong Nai.

Delegates in the workshop on developing curriculum for 9-month PT course.

As part of the project, the objective ‘to implement medium-term training to provide new staff participating in rehab professional activities’ will be accomplished in cooperation with several universities, including the Da Nang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy (UMTP).

The University will be MCNV’s partner in conducting PT, SALT medium term training (with the duration of 9 months) as well as a number of continuing medical education courses on PT for rehabilitation workers.

Speaking at the workshop on developing curriculum for the PT and SALT 9-month course, Dr. Le Thi Thuy, Vice-rector of Danang UMPT, expressed her strong commitment in accompanying MCNV to gain the best results.
The draft of the 9-month training curriculum on PT and SALT was subsequently presented by MD. Cao Bich Thuy, Deputy Head of the Department of Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, UMTP. These two courses will benefit provincial and district health workers in the provinces of Binh Dinh and Kon Tum.
At the workshop, various feedbacks from the participants were collected and synthesized to facilitate the completion of the curriculum./.

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Developing curriculum for a 9-month course in Occupational Therapy

An online workshop on developing curriculum for a 9-month course in occupational therapy (OT) was successfully organized by the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and the Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy (Hue UMP).

Over 30 participants attended the workshop, including representatives from the Vietnam Rehabilitation Association; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP), the Center for Community Health Research and Development (CCRD); Hue UMP; Health Department of Thua Thien Hue Province, Thua Thien Hue Provincial Rehabilitation Hospital and Phu Vang District Health Center.

The Project “Improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in provinces heavily sprayed with agent orange” (Inclusion Project) is funded by USAID, with the managing agency being the National Action Centre for Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Treatment (NACCET) under Chemical Command, the Ministry of Defense. CCIHP, CCRD are management awardees and MCNV is one of the implementation awardees, taking responsibility of implementing activities related to rehabilitation manpower enhancement in 8 provinces, including: Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam, Kon Tum, Binh Đinh, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh and Dong Nai. 

In order to accomplish the objective entitled ‘To implement medium-term training to provide new staff participating in rehab professional activities‘, MCNV will cooperate with several national-level universities to implement a series of training activities, including the upcoming 9-month OT course, which will be conducted in collaboration with Hue UMP.

Speaking at the workshop, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Minh Tam, Vice Principal of Hue UMP affirmed the commitment to accompanying MCNV in effectively conducting the 9-month OT course, while continuing the cooperation with the organization in implementing other significant training activities to improve the quality of rehabilitation services.

To give the participants an overview of the training course, at the workshop, MD. Pham Dung, MCNV Country Director presented to the participants the scientific and professional approach in adapting the 12-month training course curriculum (earlier approved in ‘Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Services Supporting Children with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities to thrive’ (I-THRIVE)’ project into the 9-month training course curriculum in OT.

Based on online surveys, in-depth interviews and study of available materials, MCNV has proposed an expected competency framework for the 9-month training. According to this framework, there will be some deletion, shortenings or supplementation of suitable training contents.

The outline of the 9-month training course was subsequently presented by MD. Ha Chan Nhan, Head of Rehabilitation Department, Hue UMP and discussed at the workshop.

Tentatively, after synthesizing ideas from the workshop participants, Hue UMP and MCNV will adapt the outline and detailed training curriculum, submitting to the Science Council of Hue UMP for appraisal and approval in preparation for the enrollment and training in April, 2022./.

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A flashback on Vietnam’s first cohort of Master in Speech and Language Therapy

Despite various challenges posed by the Covid-19, in November 2021, the first cohort of 14 students successfully graduated from the first Master in Speech and Language Therapy at University of Medicine and Pharmacy in HCMC, marking a significant milestone on the development journey of Speech and Language Therapy in Vietnam.

A huge gap in the unmet need of speech and language therapy
Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) is a specialty of applied science, which works to provide treatment, support and care for clients with speech, communication and swallowing impairment/disorders.

These disorders can be associated with conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson, cleft lips and cleft palate, head-neck cancer, etc.

Inability to speak, slurred speech, stuttering, articulation errors, etc, vastly hinder communication, negatively affect the quality of life, limiting social inclusion, access to education and career development.

SALT got recognition nearly 100 years ago since the formation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in 1926. Nowadays, SALT has been widely practiced in Europe, Australia and developed countries, territories in other regions. However, in Vietnam, SALT has only been present for around 10 years since the commencement of SALT short-term training conducted in several medical universities (Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine, Hanoi Medical University, Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Da Nang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy).

SALT services in Vietnam has been in high demand. According to the National Survey on People with Disabilities conducted in 2016, over 7 per cent of the population aged 2 years and older, – around 6.2 million, have a disability (mobility, hearing, sight, mental disorder, etc).
Despite the absence of official statistical data on the number of people needing SALT, according to the research ‘Disability in Vietnam 1999: A Meta-analysis of the Data” (Kane, 1999), 17%-27% of persons with disabilities in Vietnam have difficulties with speech and language.

However, due to the lack of manpower, this need remains unmet. According to the “Surveying the Demand for SALT education in Vietnam” conducted by MCNV in 2018, by late 2017, there were only 65 people who were trained and basically qualified to provide SALT services in the country.

Aiming to support Vietnam to address this need, a project titled “Speech and Language Therapy Education Development in Vietnam” was rolled out. Implemented in 5 year (2018-2022), the project is funded by USAID Vietnam via VietHealth, dedicating to lay a foundation for Vietnam’s first university-based SALT programs, including a Master course at UMP HCMC and a Bachelor course at Da Nang UMTP. Trinh Foundation Australia (TFA) participates in the project as a technical consulting partner,

Adapting in the face of adversity

The Master’s program in SALT commenced in November 2019 with 14 students who are working for HCMC UMP, Hue UMP, Da Nang UMTP, Hai Duong Medical Technical University and Tay Ninh School of Health.

A lesson on cleft lips and cleft palate as part of the Master programe in SALT.

Amidst the inevitable obstacles brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, MCNV and partners managed to come up with a set of adaptation solutions to minimize the negative impacts, ensure teaching quality and at the same time, ensure safety for the lecturers and students.

Since the time when COVID-19 hit Vietnam, most of the training activities, including clinical practice, have been shifted from direct to virtual training method, with the support of on-site Vietnamese SALT and remote international experts. The curriculum was revised, adapted while new teaching materials were developed.

Professional Zoom accounts were maintained to facilitate online learning. At the same time, memberships of Simucase – a credible clinical simulation platform – were purchased for all students and supervisors, enabling the users to assess, diagnose, make recommendations, and provide intervention for virtual patients.

During thesis research, students received continuous support from experienced supervisors of HCMC UMP and universities in Australia.

Virtual discussions between supervisors and students were facilitated with the support of assistants and interpreters to help clearly identify the objective, content and research methods of the thesis.

Encouraging outcomes
In early November 2021, all of the 14 students finally completed the graduation thesis defense. Their research covered a wide range of clinically applicable topics including stuttering, sound assessment for children, communication disability, demand for training in SALT of community-based rehabilitation therapists.

The Graduation Thesis Defence of the Master program in SALT.

More importantly, the project has benefited HCMC UMP in the long-term, since it has supported the Department of Rehabilitation in developing the proposal to the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) on issuing a training code to recognize the Master in Rehabilitation Techniques program. This Major code was approved by MOET, qualifying HCM UMP to conduct training of the three specialties (PT, OT, ST).

At the same time, the project has equipped the HCMC UMP and Da Nang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy with basic infrastructures for SALT training as well as connecting these institutions with a network of accredited SALT experts and organizations worldwide.

Building on the results brought out by the project, three designated medical universities across Vietnam are getting ready to independently offer Bachelor program in SALT.

A virtual lesson on Simucase as part of the Bachelor program in SALT, Da Nang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy.

While HCMC UMP is training the second cohort of Master program in SALT, aiming to develop a clinical supervisor team in hospitals, at HMTU, the first cohort of Bachelor program has been enrolled. Following the piloting course in Da Nang UMP, this is Vietnam’s second cohort of Bachelor program in SALT. These progresses signal the sustainable impacts of the project as well as the bright outlook of SALT in Vietnam./.

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