Singapore-Laos Collaboration to Raise the Standard of Physiotherapy Education in Laos

The Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Project is another milestone in the 20 year friendship between SIF and communities in Laos to uplift lives and build enduring friendships for a better world.

Vientiane, Laos, 13 January 2017 – Raising the overall quality of physiotherapy education in Laos so that more persons with disabilities can enjoy a positive quality of life. This is what the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd (SingHealth) and the Faculty of Medical Technology at the University of Health Sciences (FMT-UHS), Vientiane City, Lao PDR, have come together to do.

According to the Fourth Population and Housing Census 2015 conducted by the Lao Statistics Bureau, more than 160, 000 people in Laos have some form of disability. Medical rehabilitative care for such persons, provided by specialised physiotherapists and allied health professionals, is crucial for recovery. In response to the need for trained medical rehabilitative care specialists, Singaporeans and Laotians came together to design a programme to raise the standard of physiotherapy education in Laos. Entitled The Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Project this collaborative effort will augment the curriculum of FMT-UHS Bachelor’s programme in Physiotherapy. It will also equip FMT-UHS’s teaching faculty with the skills and knowledge to deliver the enhanced curriculum and increase the awareness of updated physiotherapy methods and treatments among physiotherapists in Lao PDR. 

A team from Singapore comprising 36 physiotherapists from various institutions under SingHealth, Singapore’s largest healthcare group, will carry out a series of training workshops, lectures and symposiums for their Laotian counterparts consisting of practising physiotherapists, rehabilitation nurses and orthopaedic doctors from the Faculty and selected NGOs and hospitals in the Vientiane Capital City area.

By the end of the project in 2018, the programme’s curriculum will be substantially enhanced with the latest physiotherapy and pedagogical methods. In addition, a core group of 25 Laotian ‘Master Trainers’ will be selected and equipped with the skills and knowledge to deliver the enhanced curriculum. This team of ‘Master Trainers’ will go on to train at least 30 physiotherapy students per year. Upon graduation, each of these 30 physiotherapists will treat at least 10 patients per month, enabling around 3,600 patients a year to regain some level of physical functioning to reintegrate back into society.

Since the programme was launched in 2016, SingHealth’s medical volunteers under SIF's Singapore International Volunteers programme have conducted four training workshops and successfully trained 136 Laotian professionals. They also ran a symposium on “Evidence Based Rehabilitation” to raise awareness of rehabilitative care to Laotian healthcare communities in August 2016. 

The President of the Republic of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is also Patron of the SIF, visited the fifth training workshop held today at the FMT-UHS in Vientiane, a significant gesture that reflected Singapore’s warm and longstanding relations with Laos.

SIF’s Executive Director Ms Jean Tan said, “At the Singapore International Foundation, we connect communities and enable international collaborations to effect positive change. Through this alliance of good with our Laotian friends, we hope to empower more people with disabilities to overcome their challenges to lead fuller, more productive and meaningful lives. This partnership by the people of both Singapore and Laos is testament to the good that can happen when we work together, share resources and expertise to solve common societal challenges to uplift lives.”

Prof Chua Yeow Leng, Group Director, International Collaboration Office, SingHealth said, “We are privileged to partner our counterparts in Laos to nurture a strong pipeline of healthcare educators and practitioners. In sharing ideas, skills and experiences, we can work together to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to the overall advancement of healthcare expertise in the region.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr, Rehabilitation Medicine Vice Dean, Faculty and Medical Technologies, University of Sciences, said: “we are delighted at the partnership to enhance the overall quality of physiotherapy education in Laos. The collaborative effort has not only positively impacted physiotherapists but also the wider Healthcare professionals within our community. We appreciate this friendship with Singapore and look forward to deepening this relationship”.

“The Physiotherapy Education Upgrade Project” is another milestone in the 20 year friendship between SIF and communities in Laos to uplift lives and build enduring friendships for a better world. 



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