In Vietnam, patients often do not consult with a doctor and instead, go directly to the pharmacies to seek medication for illness. Pharmacy staff, who are not necessarily trained to provide medical advice, can deliver incorrect or out-of-date information to patients. This project aims to strengthen private pharmacies' capacity to provide high-quality health services and better integrate pharmacies into the formal health system.
The initiative began working with pharmacies on contraception in Thanh Hoa province to improve access to reproductive health services by adolescents. Pharmacy staff were trained to provide reproductive health services and information to young clients. Mystery client visits before and after training workshops showed substantial changes in pharmacists' knowledge over 12 months. The project also produced a range of materials for display and distribution, and facilitated links between pharmacies and other public and private health workers through a series of joint workshops and working groups. The program was replicated to Hoa Binh province within the context of broad reproductive health for youth.
After the initial implementation period, the project expanded collaboration to cover influenza in Tra Vinh province by developing and testing a model for enhancing the role of private pharmacies in preventing and detecting influenza. Furthermore, it continues to work in Hai Phong provinces to mobilize private pharmacies in the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The program trained pharmacists and their staff to identify disease symptoms and refer clients to appropriate counseling and testing centers and health services providers.
In 2008, recognizing that private pharmacies have the potential to have a greater impact on the health in Vietnam, PATH initiated a project to enhance the capacity of private pharmacists to provide community primary health care. "Training of Trainer" courses were provided to master trainers who then trained local pharmacists and their staff regarding various common diseases, primary health care, contraception, use of antibiotics, fever and coughing, as well as skills to communicate with clients.
The program also conducted a workshop on public-private partnering, and pharmacies from both sectors joined the project through a commitment agreement. Participating pharmacies become accredited and use a "community health care" logo.
Information verified by CHMI-Vietnam: