Remarks by Mr Reginald Wee, SIF Division Director (Programmes), at the Launch of the Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Programme in Vientiane, Lao PDR

His Excellency, Mr Dominic Goh, Singapore Ambassador to Lao PDR
Associate Professor Dr Somchit Boupha, President, University of Health Sciences
Professor Chua Yeow Leng, Group Director, International Collaboration Office, SingHealth Group
The Singapore International Volunteer (SIV) team led by Professor Celia Tan,

Good morning and thank you for joining us to witness the launch of the Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Programme. This one-year Laos-Singapore collaboration aims to raise the professional standards of physiotherapy practice in Laos while fostering greater inter-cultural understanding.

Taking an integrated approach to caring for patients is crucial to their recovery and physiotherapists and allied health professionals play an important role in this. We understand that the practice of physical therapy is an emerging field in Laos. To this end, the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and Singapore volunteer doctors and nurses will work with the University of Health Sciences Laos (UHS) to train a core group of 30 Laotian physiotherapists to improve holistic patient management services. The goal is to enhance the competencies of the rehabilitative care sector in Laos so that more in the community may benefit from quality long-term healthcare.

Our thanks go to the Singapore specialist volunteers for contributing their time and efforts to this project. The team of Singapore International Volunteers or SIVs, comprise Singapore’s top rehabilitative experts and they will assist UHS’s Faculty of Medical Technology or FMT in refining the curriculum of its new Bachelor of Physiotherapy programme. Over 12 workshops, the SIVs - led by Prof Celia Tan, Group Director of the Group Allied Health at Singapore’s SingHealth Group - will equip a group of lecturers from FMT and physiotherapy practitioners from the Center for Medical Rehabilitation and other local hospitals with the knowledge and pedagogical skills to deliver the programme’s theoretical and practical components. We are grateful to our volunteers for sharing their knowledge for the greater good.

Together with UHS, we will organise an Inter-professional Rehabilitation Symposium later this morning. This is the first of three professional knowledge sharing sessions to reach the wider Laotian healthcare community. This healthcare training project will facilitate mutual learning and sharing of expertise, fostering personal and professional networks that will endure beyond this project.

Singapore has enjoyed a warm friendship with the people of Laos through various areas of cooperation over the past 19 years. We have worked together to share ideas and experiences, and collaborated on common causes we are concerned about. To date, the SIF has sent 21 in-field volunteers to live and work in Laos on six to 12 months assignments. They mainly serve in the area of English language training for Laotian civil servants. Teams of specialist volunteers from Singapore have worked with their Laotian counterparts in medical disciplines ranging from drug rehabilitation, midwifery to emergency obstetrics and paediatrics. These collaborations have built greater mutual understanding and effected positive social change. They also strengthen ties of friendship and trust between our peoples.

We appreciate the partnership with UHS and the Ministry of Health of Lao PDR. We thank you for your trust and this privilege of working with you to uplift lives. We thank all of you for joining us to be part of this journey to build a better world - one that is peaceful, inclusive and offers opportunities for all. The SIF turns 25 this year and we look forward to continuing our work to connect world communities to enable collaborations that effect positive social change.  

On this note, I wish you all good discussions today.



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