Vietnam has the first batch of bachelors in occupational therapy

August 6th 2019 – 36 students have received their bachelor degrees in Occupational Therapy (OT) from the Haiduong Medical Technical University and become the first Occupational Therapists in Vietnam.

This is the significant result of a 5 – year project (2016 – 2020) on Development of Occupational Therapy Education in Vietnam funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Humanity & Inclusion (HI) and the Medical Committee of Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV).

The project is piloted at Hai Duong Medical Technical University (HMTU) and the Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University (UMP) with aims at addressing the big gap of occupational therapy human resource in Vietnam through create enabling conditions to establish education of OT professions in Vietnam, including provision of OT educators, and development of a standard competency-based curriculum that can be recognized in the region, as well as training materials and strengthened Government policy on OT.

It is received huge contributions from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam Rehabilitation Association (VINAREHA) and experts from large rehabilitation centers and hospitals. Furthermore, the project is implemented with technical support from Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India who has over 50-year experience in OT training and development.

Addressing at the event, Mr. Anthony Kolb, Acting Director of Environment and Social Development, USAID expressed his delight to witness the graduation of the first Occupational Therapists in Vietnam and said that the result has been set up a milestone on development OT profession in Vietnam.

“Assisting persons with disabilities has long been one of the top priorities for the USAID in Vietnam. Since 1989, with the establishment of the Leahy War Victims Fund, USAID has worked to increase to a variety of programs benefiting people with disabilities in conflict – affected countries”, he said.

The U.S Government has contributed more than USD100 million toward improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities, by addressing medical and social needs, improving disabilities policies and reducing physical and social barriers. Over 30.000 people with disabilities have received support from USAID. Beside the direct supports, USAID is working with other stakeholders to improve the quality of services for people with disabilities in Vietnam.

In the world, the OT profession has been evolved over the last 100 years to become an essential part of comprehensive rehabilitation services. Being aware of its crucial role, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health vision 2030 strategy recognizes OT as one of the required, specialized fields in rehabilitation. As such, the Ministry has made it obligatory to establish OT Department in Rehabilitation Hospitals and teams of OT in Rehabilitation Department of Provincial General Hospitals.

However, before the aforementioned course was established, OT educational programs in Vietnam did not exist. Therefore, to help address this need, USAID provided a five-year grant (2016-2020) to HI and MCNV to support development of the OT professions in Vietnam.

Dr. Le Tuan Dong, Head of the Rehabilitation and Medical Examination Bureau, sent his sincere thanks to International organizations such as USAID, HI and MCNV for assisting the Vietnam healthcare system through providing educational program on OT at bachelor level as well as the development of this new profession.

“This educational program has helped students understanding basic concepts of OT and achieving new knowledge then later on will be applied in our daily works at hospitals. In some hospitals, OT labs have been set up recently. It brings more opportunities for us in clinical practices and placement right after graduating the course” said Nguyen Phu Sy – one of the new graduates.

According to MCNV Country Director Dr. Pham Dung, besides providing technical supports for OT education, in the time to come, MCNV also focus on vocational consultancy, policy development… to ensure Vietnam’s manpower sustainability in both quality and quantity.

During the project life, 05 selected lecturers UMP and HMTU have been sent to Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India to enroll in the Bachelor programme in OT.  Since March 2017, total 57 students have enrolled in the OT courses at bachelor level at HMTU and UMP. Two (02) OT labs also have been set up in those two universities to support for practices and clinical placements during the courses.

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