Health Development

Development of occupational therapy in Vietnam

Background

Rehabilitation has been developed in Vietnam for more than 40 years; it is still a big gap of Occupational Therapy (OT) development. The main rehabilitation practice in Vietnam is Physical Therapy (PT), yet there are currently no qualified occupational therapists in Vietnam. OT services are provided by physiotherapists with minimal clinical training in OT, or by occupational therapists from other countries who come for short periods. It is only available in a few large hospitals. Specific OT services were unavailable for mental rehabilitation, elder care, home-based care, school-based services for children with special needs, etc. The faculty (PT and Rehabilitation doctors) may not be well-equipped to teach OT in depth, due to lack of experience, equipment, and resources, limited information from books, especially those written in English. In addition to the lack of qualified OT doctors, those qualified with Masters to teach OT are not available in Vietnam. The participants of OT training survey were of the unanimous opinion that OT education needs to be commenced in Vietnam.

Being aware of the fact that OT is essential to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services, the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s orientation of rehabilitation development up to year 2020 stated that OT is one of specialized fields in rehabilitation. It is obligatory to establish Occupational Therapy Departments in Rehabilitation Hospitals as well as Provincial General Hospitals.

MCNV’s responses

In October 2015, MCNV received a fund from USAID to run a 5 – year project of OT training development in Vietnam. The project’s goal is to create the foundation and necessary conditions in order to develop the training system of professional OT in Vietnam, including the provision of OT trainers, competency-based training curriculum and OT-related policies. Specific objective of this project as follows:

  • To develop a group of capable OT trainers in HMTU and UMP HCMC.
  • To develop a 4-year competency-based OT curriculum at a regional level.
  • To pilot an OT Bachelor training course in HMTU and UMP HCMC
  • To set up two OT units for practicing during training procedure.

To implement this project in the context of having no OT experts and trainers, MCNV already approached School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University (SOAHS – MU), India to ask for technical support during the project implementation. Two universities in Vietnam were involved in this project including Hai Duong Medical Technical University (HMTU) and University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City (UMP HCMC). The project has also received strong supports from Administration of Medical Service and Administration of Science Technology and Training, MoH.

Achievements so far

After almost one year conducting the project, the following results have been achieved:

  • Sending a group of 4 or more trainers from HMTU and UMP HCMC to one-month orientation course on OT in SOAHS – MU.
  • Sending a group of 5 Physical Therapists to an English course and Bachelor of OT course (BOT) in SOAHS – MU.
  • Sending a group of 6 key persons from MoH, HMTU, UMP HCMC and MCNV to the study tour on OT in SOAHS – MU.
  • Develop the BOT program outlines for full-time and part-time training courses
  • Develop the Syllabus of part-time BOT program which will be piloting at HMTU and UMP HCMC in year 2017.

In the coming years, MCNV will continue to run the program as planned to reach all objectives.