Improving Health Care for Ethnic Minority Populations through Pre-Service Training in Viet Nam: A Systems-Based Approach
With funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, this project improved access to high-quality, culturally appropriate health care in mountainous and underserved areas where many ethnic minorities live, and addressed equity issues for these groups. By partnering with two medical universities and five medical colleges/secondary medical schools, Pathfinder reinforced medical education with an emphasis on primary health care needs of minority populations. The project promoted ethnic minority student representation in medical education, so graduates can return and serve their underrepresented communities.
Pathfinder developed and published the Medical Anthropology Curriculum—a first for Viet Nam—which aims to sensitize students to the social and cultural determinants of health. Additionally, existing curricula were “spiked” with ethnic minority case studies. Results of a mid-term evaluation showed that the project’s design and implementation are effective. After the evaluation, the project intensified its advocacy effort for policy change and improvements that promote enrollment, recruitment, and retention of ethnic minority medical students, as well as meaningful participation of ethnic minorities in the medical profession.
Pathfinder provided medical anthropology training to health personnel who provide services to ethnic minority populations. The project also supported curriculum updates and development of teaching aids, improved teaching methodologies, upgraded teaching facilities and skill labs as well as community-based practicum facilities to support healthy human development in ethnic minority areas, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia.
Students and ethnic minority students expressed their appreciated of new, dynamic teaching methodologies and learning opportunities that came about as a result of project activities. This resulted in teachers being inspired to use more interactive approaches in their classrooms. The project also motivated policymakers to review current policy framework, igniting a discussion on improving that framework to support the human resource development for health care in mountainous areas.
In November 2013, the project shared the promising results of its final evaluation at a workshop, giving training institutions, project partners, and stakeholders at national and subnational levels the opportunity to discuss and develop plans to sustain project results in the future.
- More than 20,000 medical students and 1,000 teachers benefited from project teachings in seven different medical training institutions
- 66 medical practicum sites upgraded and put into active use for teaching and learning
- 542 faculty and 679 teaching staff received technical updates to refresh their training in teaching methodologies
- Four sets of curricula for doctors, assistants doctors, nurses, and midwives were revised to meet competency-based requirements
- Ministry of Health shared project products on its website for use by other medical training institutions
Pathfinder is enhancing the health management information system in Viet Nam in order to strengthen the health sector's planning and management and to reduce inequities among poor and vulnerable populations.
In Viet Nam, Pathfinder taught young people about HIV prevention and provided other life skills-based training to improve sexual and reproductive health among 15-24-year-olds.
With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Pathfinder implemented a one-year pilot project to target ethnic minority populations in the Central Highlands and Northern Mountains regions of Viet Nam with health messages.
On July 13, 2016, InsideNGO honored Pathfinder International’s Program Systems Unit with its 2016 Excellence Award in Cross Operations at its annual conference in Washington, DC. Pathfinder was chosen as a winner due to its work in transforming a paper-based project compliance review system to a digital app and online monitoring portal, a transition that has greatly improved Pathfinder’s ability to monitor its many supported health facilities. After a successful pilot in Nigeria and roll-out in Bangladesh, the team is currently coordinating additional roll-outs in Tanzania, Kenya, and other locations.
With funding from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, Pathfinder has begun a new project to test the effectiveness of a mobile phone-based continuing medical education strategy among Vietnamese community-based physician assistants.