AusAID fellowships to build international capacity through education

18 May 2011

The Faculty of Health Sciences has been successful in securing an AusAID Australian Leadership Award (ALA) Fellowship which will enable wider access to physiotherapy preparation in Vietnam. A second ALA fellowship awarded through the Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre (STIRC) will enhance the professional experience of HIV management professionals in Africa.

With no physiotherapy undergraduate programme existing outside Ho Chi Minh city, there is a serious need to improve preparation of physiotherapists in northern Vietnam. Rehabilitation services in the northern half of the country are limited and with injuries following road traffic accidents increasing by up to 45% per year, expert physiotherapy is required.

Funded primarily through the AusAID ALA Fellowship Grant, the University of Sydney will deliver training in the development of undergraduate programmes and will enable four academics from the Hanoi Medical University (HMU) to visit the University in late October 2011. Whilst here they will undergo training in the development of undergraduate programmes, attend lectures and tutorials focusing on neurological, musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary topics and visit a number of clinical placement facilities. As well, a purpose-designed training programme will be designed by Professor Kathryn Refshauge and Associate Professor Louise Ada, from the University of Sydney in collaboration with Dr. Hanh at HMU Deputy Head of rehabilitation medicine. The training programme will focus on the current issues affecting physiotherapy practice in Vietnam and explore the latest educational bases for curriculum design, delivery and assessment. Lecturers will include experts in educational theory, integrating theory into practice and implementation of physiotherapy curricula.

"Following this, a physiotherapy curriculum will result that matches the needs for northern Vietnam and meets the highest academic and clinical standards" says Professor Patrick Brennan, Associate Dean International Faculty of Health Sciences.

"The fellows will have the opportunity to be mentored by academics who are global leaders in this field, with the ultimate aim to set up the first physiotherapy undergraduate programme in Vietnam outside of Ho Chi Minh city, underpinned by the latest developments in course design, delivery and assessment"

In other ALA success, the University of Sydney will deliver a short intensive preparation program in HIV. Listed applicants from Botswana, South Africa and Zambia have been approved to attend the program in HIV at the Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre (STIRC), University of Sydney. The program aims to provide a comprehensive overview of prevention and management of HIV infection as well as opportunities to enhance professional experience and develop networks.

The program includes attendance at the Australasian HIV Conference, visits to centres of excellence and participation in a leadership development course. "At the end of the programme participants will be able to use their skills to build capacity in the prevention and treatment of HIV," says Professor Elias Mpofu from the Faculty of Health Sciences, who was involved in the development of the program.

The Australian Leadership Award Fellowships is a fully funded programme managed by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).