Vietnam Time

9/27/2019 10:44:23 AM

First batch of optoms graduate in Vietnam

From only three qualified optometrists in 2013, Vietnam is now welcoming the first round of locally trained clinicians into the workforce.
Graduation ceremony of the first optometrists at Hanoi Medical University

The inaugural cohort of 43 students from Hanoi Medical University’s (HMU) School of Optometry graduated in August, joining 12 other recent graduates from the University of Medicine Pham Ngoc Thach (UPNT).

The milestone is a significant turning point for the country. Vietnam currently has 29 million citizens, with an estimated 21 million unable to access much needed eye-care services.

Established in 1902, HMU is Vietnam’s oldest university. Despite its history producing doctors and reputation as being at the forefront of medical education in the country, it did not offer an optometry course until recently.

“The figure showed that 10.5 million people over the age of 50 years did not have the glasses they needed for near vision” – Huynh Phuong Ly, BHVI

Integral to the introduction of the current course was the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) and the Australian NGO Cooperation Program. A trial program was piloted at UPNT in 2014 – A joint venture between BHVI, UPNT and Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital –followed by a parallel program at HMU in 2015.

BHVI has contributed to Vietnam by developing workforce infrastructure and assisting in the creation of national eye-care plans.

Ms Huynh Phuong Ly, country representative for BHVI, said Vietnam has high levels of uncorrected eye issues.

“Our eye-care prevalence shows very high uncorrected refractive error rates of 11.4% particularly in the 50+ age group. In fact, the figures showed that 10.5 million people over the age of 50 years did not have the glasses they needed for near vision. A recent research study conducted in Vietnam found that 21.4% of school children have uncorrected refractive errors in some regions.”

It is estimated that the joint programs will produce more than 150 qualified optometrists by 2020, bring the country closer to the World Health Organization’s 2020 target of one optometrist for every 50,000 people. More than 300 students are currently enrolled in the four-year program across the two universities.

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