Singapore-Laos Collaboration in Physiotherapy Education Benefits 3,600 Patients Annually in Vientiane, Laos

Four-year Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Project comes to a successful close, upskilling over 350 Laotian healthcare educators and professionals to provide better care for up to 3,600 patients across Vientiane annually.

Vientiane, Laos, 18 December 2019 – With over 350 Laotian healthcare educators and professionals equipped with enhanced physiotherapy and pedagogical know-how, a four-year Singapore-Laos collaboration came to a successful conclusion at a healthcare symposium today. Held at the Laos-Singapore Cooperation Centre (LSCC) in Vientiane, the closing ceremony saw over 100 healthcare educators and practitioners from both countries come together to celebrate the collective impact and cross-border friendships forged.

A collaborative effort between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) and the Faculty of Medical Technology at the University of Health Sciences (FMT-UHS), Vientiane City, Lao PDR, the Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Project was designed and launched in 2016 in response to the need for more trained medical rehabilitative care specialists in Laos. Designed to raise the standard of physiotherapy education over a four-year period, the capacity building initiative has enhanced the competencies of the rehabilitative care sector, enabling nearly 3,600 patients yearly to enjoy a better quality of life.

This was achieved over a series of three symposia and 12 training workshops, covering topics from sport and musculoskeletal physiotherapy to cardiopulmonary physiotherapy, conducted by a team of 40 Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) made up of physiotherapists, doctors and nurses from SingHealth. Laotian professionals trained consisted of undergraduates of the FMT-UHS’ physiotherapy faculty, physiotherapists from the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation as well as other practising physiotherapists, rehabilitation nurses and orthopaedic doctors from various hospitals in Vientiane.

One of these workshops was graced by former President of the Republic of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, also former Patron of the SIF. His visit to FMT-UHS in Vientiane in January 2017 was a gesture that reflected Singapore’s warm and longstanding relations with Laos. The Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Project also further augmented the curriculum of FMT-UHS’s new Bachelor’s programme in Physiotherapy, alongside the SIVs’ efforts in upskilling the faculty’s academic staff. A core group of 36 Laotian ‘Master Trainers’, of which 8 are from the FMT-UHS, has since been equipped with the skills and knowledge to deliver the enhanced curriculum and continually train their local students, ensuring the project’s sustainability.

SIF’s Executive Director Ms Jean Tan said, “The Singapore International Foundation believes in the endless possibilities when like-minded partners connect and collaborate to do good. The success of this project, in close partnership with our Laotian friends, is a great example of the good that can happen when we share ideas, skills and experiences to solve social challenges.”

SingHealth’s Group Director of Allied Health, Prof Celia Tan said, “We are glad to have this chance to partner our counterparts in Laos to make a larger positive difference in the lives of others. What heartens me the most is knowing that this project will continue to reap benefits thanks to the efforts of our dedicated Laotian ‘Master Trainers’ who will go on to share what they have learnt from the Singapore International Volunteers with their peers and the physiotherapy faculty’s students. In particular, I am pleased with the positive responses of the healthcare professionals to the interprofessional symposiums which has helped the different clinicians to understand each other’s role in the care of the patients.”

A/Prof Dr Bouathep Phoumindr, Deputy Director General of Laos’ Ministry of Health’s Department of Health Care and Rehabilitation said, “It is a great pleasure to be able to partner our friends from Singapore to raise the physiotherapy education standards in Laos. This opportunity was only possible thanks to the friendship between both countries, and we look forward to deepening this relationship in the years to come.”

Ms Leow Siu Lin, Ambassador of Singapore to Laos, congratulated the SIF, SingHealth and its partners in Laos on the successful conclusion of the four-year programme and said that she was delighted that the LSCC was able to host the last series of workshops and symposium. In doing so, the LSCC, besides offering training courses for Lao government officials, was able to support Singapore entities deliver their capacity building programmes in Laos. The LSCC is an enduring symbol of the Singapore government’s commitment in assisting Laos in its efforts to upgrade the level of human resource development in different areas. She looks forward to more collaborative projects in the future. 

The closure of this healthcare project marks another collaborative effort in the 22-year friendship between SIF and communities in Laos to uplift lives and build enduring friendships for a better world. This builds on the success of SIF’s other volunteer cooperation projects in Laos such as the Emergency Obstetrics and Paediatrics Project which sought to reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths, and an In-Field Volunteer programme where Singaporeans provide English language training for Laotian government officials.

 

 

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