Singapore - Cambodia Collaboration Efforts Mark Milestone with Successful Completion of Physiotherapy Bachelor Upgrade Programme

The capacity building collaboration in Phnom Penh has successfully upskilled physiotherapy practitioners across Cambodia and developed a robust curriculum framework for professional development.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 15 March 2019 – The five-year Physiotherapy Bachelor Upgrade Programme– a collaboration between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), in partnership with Technical School of Medical Care, University of Health Sciences (TSMC-UHS) and Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) – was successfully concluded with over 80 Cambodian physiotherapy practitioners being trained to sustainably benefit 80,000 patients annually.

Another key outcome was the establishment of an education framework for upskilling Cambodian healthcare practitioners via a bridging programme for diploma holders to upgrade their education qualifications to a bachelor’s degree. The bridging programme comprises eight modules, namely: Musculoskeletal, Cardiopulmonary, Neurology and Geriatric, Paediatrics and Women’s Health, Community-Based Rehabilitation, Wheelchair Prescription, Research Thesis and Evidence-Based Practice and Health Promotion. It was approved by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Cambodia in May 2016 and successfully launched in January 2017.

Over 1,320 hours of classroom learning (theory and classroom practice) and clinical attachment to more than 15 hospitals and rehabilitation clinics in Cambodia have equipped these students with advanced clinical reasoning skills and knowledge. An inaugural cohort of 13 students with a Diploma in Physiotherapy have completed the course and now hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy. These students were taught by a group of Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) and 12 Cambodian master trainers who in turn, earlier trained with the the SIVs and jointly developed the curriculum.  

Professor Celia Tan, Group Director, Group Allied Health, SingHealth said, “SingHealth is privileged to have partnered our Cambodian partner University of Health Sciences on this project. Building a professional development ecosystem for Cambodian allied health professionals has been a long-time dream for both the Singaporean and Cambodian trainers who have worked on this project. It has a fulfilling journey as we look back at how far we have come together.”

Professor Vonthanak, Rector of UHS shared, “With the additional knowledge the SIVs have contributed to our existing curriculum by covering key elements of physiotherapy practice not covered in a diploma programme, we have now built an educational pathway for developing our dedicated physical therapy practitioners within the country. This is an incentive for them to stay in the sector, to keep learning and contributing. The successful completion of this collaboration has also given momentum for our plans in creating a direct admission pathway to the Bachelor in Physical Therapy for high school graduates to develop much needed talent in Cambodia.”

Said Ms Jean Tan, SIF’s Executive Director: “The Physiotherapy Bachelor Upgrade Programme is one of several Singapore-Cambodia collaborations over the years to help raise standards of healthcare services in Cambodia. Others include the Emergency Medical Care & Management Project (2016 – 2018) and Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Programme (2011 – 2015). We are pleased to mark another milestone in the 17-year friendship between the SIF and Cambodia in uplifting lives and fostering ties between our peoples.”

Check out our webisode on our SIV Irene Toh on her role in the project -



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