Japan, Vietnam broadening health care cooperation

Source: http://asia.nikkei.com/

 

Vietnam is cooperating more with Japan in the field of medicine, as the Southeast Asian country seeks advanced technology and know-how to improve its health care.

 

In mid-February, Vietnam's Ministry of Health signed an agreement on personnel exchanges and joint studies with a consortium of four universities in western Japan: Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Osaka City Universities, Nara Medical University and Wakayama Medical University.

 

The Vietnamese government has worked with universities individually in the past, but this uncoordinated approach, such as a cooperation agreement between Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and a Vietnamese college last year, has yielded limited success. For example, a Vietnamese school may want to send students to learn about a specific medical technology, but school in Japan may not have the expertise or capacity to help.

 

By tying up with four medical schools, it will be easier to find the right institution for particular study needs. The hope is the larger partnership will double exchanges of people between the two countries. Broader cooperation will also foster joint studies in such areas as the treatment of communicable disease. It is rare for Japanese universities to form an alliance with a foreign government.

 

Good for you, and me

 

"To keep up with advances in medical technology, we need to send people to study in countries such as Japan where cutting-edge medical technologies are being used," said Vietnamese Deputy Health Minister Le Quang Cuong.

 

For Japan, more cooperation means greater opportunities to showcase its medical equipment, which could lead to future sales. European medical equipment makers are dominant in Vietnam, according to a Japanese politician who is versed in the Southeast Asian country's health care system.

 

"Many Vietnamese doctors have studied in Europe, so they are familiar with European medical equipment," the politician noted.

 

Lately, however, more Japanese institutions are setting up in Vietnam to provide assistance in medicine and nursing care. A consortium of companies and academic institutions, including of Nagoya University, Fujifilm, Hitachi group and others, opened a digestive endoscopy center at a Hanoi hospital last July. The center is working to introduce Japan's high-tech endoscopes in Vietnam, and providing technical assistance from Japanese doctors and nurses.

 

A nonprofit organization in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture that provides nursing care has agreed to work with Vietnam's Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy to train personnel. The nonprofit organization will send five people to a teach Japanese methods of care for a university course to begin in April.

 

Health care spending in Southeast Asia was equivalent to just 3.7% of the region's gross domestic product in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. That is much less than the 14.8% of GDP the U.S. spends, or Europe's 9.5% share. Recently, however, more people in Southeast Asia are seeking high-quality medical treatment, reflecting the growth of the middle class. In Vietnam, many people travel to Singapore and Thailand for medical treatment.

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