IBSA Fund-Supported Healthcare eLearning Platform in Viet Nam used in response to COVID-19

Mar 26, 2020 | COVID-19, DRR News, IBSA Fund News and Stories, News

An IBSA Fund-supported key eLearning project to improve healthcare coverage and quality in the Northern Coastal region of Vietnam that has proven to be successful in reaching health care workers in remote-site medical settings, is now being used to respond to COVID-19.

From 2015-2019, in the spirit of South–South cooperation, the innovative India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) Trust Fund, managed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), and implemented by World Health Organization (WHO) Viet Nam collaborated on a key learning project with Hai Phong University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HPMU) through the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Viet Nam.

A participant learning through eLearning for Health platform supported by IBSA Fund (Photo WHO)

“This IBSA Fund-supported project introduced an eLearning approach which could be easily replicated in the future without additional funding requirements. We are very pleased that the results achieved are being sustained and WHO and HPMU are utilizing the eLearning platform to respond to COVID-19,” said Jorge Chediek, UNOSSC Director and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation

Given the country’s strong nationwide internet and mobile coverage, the overarching goal of this project was to improve coverage, equal access, and quality of health care services for the poorest and most vulnerable population groups in the Northern Coastal Region of Viet Nam, in the area of NCDs (Noncommunicable diseases) and marine health.

The project offers pre- and in-service doctors and other health care workers, including those at primary care level (frontline), access to online training in order to upgrade their skills and knowledge on NCDs. In particular, frontline health care workers are upskilled with minor disruption in service delivery as these courses can be accessed on their smartphones or computers at a time suitable to them, even after work hours.

With strong support and a buy-in from the Ministry of Health, the IBSA Fund eLearning Initiative succeeded in establishing significant levels of skills and infrastructure withing HPMU to develop and deliver effective eLearning as an approach to Continuing Medical Training (CME), overcoming barriers to training experienced by many remote-site medical settings. Currently, as of March 2020, over 1,200 general medicine students are enrolled on the eLearning system.

“COVID-19 is a new disease and as such, it is critical that the best available information on this is delivered to our colleagues in a timely, convenient and user-friendly manner. We aim to bring the knowledge to the learners, instead of physically moving the learners to where the knowledge is. This strategy is especially important now that we are in the COVID-19 outbreak situation, when physical gathering is discouraged in line with the promotion of the practice of social distancing measures to control virus spread,” said Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.

Online training module on Clinical Care Severe Acute Respiratory Infection developed by WHO to respond COVID-19 is accessible free of charge in IBSA eLearning for Health platforms (Photo: WHO).

In 2020, in light of the increasing demand to level up knowledge of the health workforce to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19, WHO and HPMU are jointly enhancing the eLearning platform by adding online training modules on COVID-19 developed by WHO, in areas such as clinical care for severe acute respiratory infections. The modules are translated into Vietnamese to increase the reach of the training course to frontline health care providers in the country.

Professor Nguyen Van Hung, Vice Rector of HPMU, takes pride in being able to contribute to the capacity building of frontline health workers fighting against COVID-19 as he remarked:

“The IBSA eLearning platform – with the help of the governments of India, Brazil and South Africa, as well as WHO – has succeeded in establishing significant levels of skills and infrastructure within HPMU to develop and deliver effective eLearning as an approach to continuing medical training, and overcoming barriers to training experienced by many remote-site medical settings. We aim to take advantage of this existing platform to contribute in the COVID-19 response.”

Hai Phong University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HPMU) is one of the key training institutions for the health workforce in Viet Nam. It provides training to health care professionals, including pre- and in-service training of health care workers deployed at all levels, especially in the community and district levels in the northern area of the country.

The India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) is a pioneering initiative to implement South-South cooperation for the benefit of other Southern countries in partnership with the United Nations system. Its purpose is to identify replicable and scalable projects that can be disseminated to interested developing countries as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger. The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation is the Fund Manager for this initiative.

Contact: Bhushan Shrestha, Result Management Specialist, UNOSSC, bhushan.shrestha@unossc.org