The role of the medical researchers of the University of Tartu and the doctors of Tartu University Hospital in the development and support of the health care system of Vietnam started when the doctors and teaching staff of medical universities of Vietnam (Danang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy, Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Hanoi Medical University) first came to Estonia to get new experiences.
Up to now over 60 Vietnamese colleagues have job shadowed UT medical researchers. During the job shadowing period, lasting from a few weeks to several months, they got an overview of Estonian teaching and medical practice in order to improve the teaching of medical specialisations in Vietnam and thus the quality of medical assistance in general. In total, 269 specialists and experts were directly involved from European-side (8 pre-clinical and 12 clinical specialties).
So far, the researchers of the University of Tartu have most actively cooperated with the second largest medical university in Vietnam, Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy. At the end of 2013, Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy opened the 18th infertility clinic in Vietnam thanks to the support of the University of Tartu and Tartu University Hospital. In August 2014, the same clinic was proud to present their first test-tube baby, who would not have been born without the help of the doctors and embryologists of the University of Tartu.
In vitro fertilisation is an important part of the cooperation between the doctors and researchers of the University of Tartu and Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy. Hue University had the necessary equipment already some time ago, but they had not carried out any procedures, as they lacked the competence. So the Vietnamese doctors and teaching staff came to the University of Tartu to obtain the required knowledge. Estonian experts helped them collect samples and taught them how to store and analyse these samples.
However, reproductive medicine is only one field of cooperation between the UT and Vietnam. There is also active cooperation in orthopaedics and stomatology.
Paediatricians also develop joint projects and there is successful cooperation in the field of genetic research. The researchers of the two countries study rare diseases, such as developmental bone disorders and bone cancer, and the genetic factors of them.
In November 2013, the UT and Hanoi Medical University signed a mutual cooperation agreement to create the national biobank of Vietnam. Researchers of Hanoi Medical University who had familiarised themselves with the structure of several biobanks in Europe were most impressed by the Estonian Genome Centre of the University of Tartu. Vietnam with its population of nearly 90 million people is hoping to develop the respective legislation in the coming years and to soon begin collecting the data of gene donors all over the country.
To initiate research, the partners actively cooperate with several other Vietnamese medical schools and research institutions. For instance, joint research is being prepared to investigate the effect of exposure to dioxins on biological organisms and increase awareness of the effects of dioxins as the cause of increasing environmental pollution problems in people’s everyday lives; the parties are also discussing the action plan for researcher exchange.
With the Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, the UT is in the middle of creation of a joint doctoral school (2015-2016), i.e. the idea to create a doctoral students’ programme, as the Vietnamese medical schools are in dire need of teaching staff with doctoral degrees.
UT researchers have been to Vietnam and the Vietnamese have been to Tartu in the framework of projects supported by the Swedish International Development Agency, the European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian national structural assistance.
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