Aged Care and Clinical Pharmacology

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Aged Care and Clinical Pharmacology are emerging as new disciplines in Vietnam. The recent increase in life expectancy with the improvement of living conditions requires development of health and social services for older people, who now make up 10% of the Vietnamese population. With increased access to medication, clinical pharmacologists are required to develop systems for quality use of medicines at all levels. The Pharmacology Department in Hanoi is investigating traditional Vietnamese medicines and clinical pharmacologists will be needed to design trials of these products.

Dr Ogle, Professor Phan Thang and Dr Sarah Hilmer

In December 2006, Dr Sarah Hilmer and Dr Susan Ogle visited the newly established National Institute of Gerontology in Hanoi. They spent a week giving lectures, observing and discussing the development of aged services in Vietnam with doctors, allied health staff and students. They agreed to help Dr Thanh, a physician Dr Ogle had previously hosted as a Học Mãi Scholar, develop a new curriculum for medical students and medical staff in geriatric medicine.

Ms Anthea Broadfoot, a second year medical student from Royal North Shore Hospital, was in the National Institute of Gerontology in Hanoi on a Học Mãi Scholarship during their visit. Anthea is now developing a culturally and resource appropriate teaching program about cognitive impairment for Hanoi Medical Students. This project will be towards honours in the University of Sydney Graduate Medical Program, supervised by Drs Hilmer and Ogle, with additional expertise in medical education from Dr Kirsty Foster. A very informative pilot of the program was performed with Học Mãi Scholars at RNSH in September 2007. Dr Hilmer, Dr Ogle and Ms Broadfoot hope to return to Hanoi in December 2008 to launch the program.

Dr Hilmer hosted a Học Mãi Fellow, Dr Tran Thanh Tung, in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at RNSH from July to October 2007. Dr Tung is completing a Masters of Pharmacology at Hanoi Medical School, and is keen to establish a Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Bach Mai Hospital. He observed activities at local, State and National levels, including clinical consultation, medication management, therapeutic drug monitoring, teaching and research in basic and clinical pharmacology and public health.

Assessing priorities in Australian Aged Care and Clinical Pharmacology services and education, and applying those to new programs in Vietnamese Hospitals and Universities has been very rewarding for all involved.

Dr Sarah Hilmer
Royal North Shore Hospital
Head of Department, Clinical Pharmacology
Staff Specialist, Aged Care & Rehabilitation
Senior Lecturer, Medicine