Remarks by Mr Reginald Wee, SIF Division Director (Programmes), at the Launch of the Physiotherapy Bachelor Bridging Programme in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

His Excellency Prof Thir Kruy, Secretary of State, Ministry of Health
His Excellency Mr Michael Tan, Singapore’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia
His Excellency Prof Saphonn Vonthanak, Rector, University of Health Sciences
Dr Iem Sophal, Director, Technical School of Medical Centre, UHSc
Ms Aicha Benyaich, PT Mobile, International Committee of Red Cross
Mr Song Sit, President, Cambodian Physical Therapy Association
Physiotherapy Faculty members
Distinguished guests, and

Good morning. I am delighted to be here today for the launch of the Physiotherapy Bachelor Bridging Programme under the Physiotherapy Bachelor’s Programme Upgrade project.

With rising global population and changing health demographics, there is a growing need to ensure access and optimal delivery in healthcare services. We see that healthcare practitioners, including physiotherapists, play a vital role in this. The Singapore International Foundation, or SIF, is privileged to be working together with our partners Technical School of Medical Care, University of Health Sciences, Cambodia (TSMC-UHS) and Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) on this project. The project aims to enhance the professional level of physiotherapy services and standards in Cambodia, while building greater cross-cultural understanding.

In the last few years, a team of Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) worked closely with Cambodian healthcare practitioners to develop the Physiotherapy Bachelor Bridging Programme which will allow Cambodians with a Diploma in Physiotherapy to upgrade their skills and knowledge to a Bachelor’s Degree. In 2016, this new bridging programme was approved by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in Cambodia.   

The bridging programme will begin with the first lesson on 21 January 2017. The SIVs will teach and conduct assessments together with Cambodian trainers over the next 18 months. The SIVs will, at the same time, equip the Cambodian trainers with enhanced knowledge and competency skills to teach the programme beyond the first cohort, and thus ensure its sustainability. Since 2015, six workshops have successfully been conducted to prepare and train the core group of 12 faculty members to teach the programme.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognise Professor Celia Tan and her team of SIVs who have contributed their time and efforts in this meaningful project. Special mention also goes to Ms Irene Toh, Principal Physiotherapist of Singapore General Hospital, who is taking seven months off from her work to stay in Cambodia to provide leadership and guidance for the successful implementation of the bridging programme as the project’s Programme Director.

At the SIF, we connect international communities to enable collaborations and effect positive change. Since 2002, the SIF have sent Singapore volunteers to Cambodia on capacity-building projects to uplift lives by sharing knowledge, skills and resources. In total, we have sent a total of 941 SIVs to work alongside with their Cambodian counterparts, serving in areas such as clean water and sanitation, special education, respiratory health, and counselling and therapeutic services for women and children who had undergone abuse and exploitation. These collaborations over the years have strengthened ties between our peoples and fostered many friendships.  

On that note, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to UHS for this privilege of working together again. Our deepest gratitude also goes to the Cambodian team of module leaders and co-leaders who have generously contributed their time over the past few years to develop the bridging programme and teach in the next 18 months: Mr Song Sit, Mr Heam Hoeung, Mr Kem Savy, Ms Net Chenda, Mr Pang Sarun, Mr Suy Sarith, Mr Phan Hiep, Ms Som Piseth, Mr Bak Tokyo, Mr Tan Sethy, Mr So Visal and Mr Suon Sokhom. For his support and guidance, I must also thank Mr Song Sit, President of the Cambodian Physical Therapy Association. Song Sit is a graduate of our Advanced Certificate in Physiotherapy Practice programme in 2009. We are heartened to see him today using his knowledge, expertise and networks to shape the bridging programme for future students.

Thank you all for joining us to be part of this journey to build a better world - one that is peaceful, inclusive and offers opportunities for all. I wish you a pleasant day ahead.



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