UQ helps Vietnam with health records

UQ's School of Population Health will receive more than $4 million to work with Vietnamese government and medical bodies and universities to strengthen vital health data collection and plan for future health needs.

UQ health experts are helping Vietnam gather more detailed birth and death data to help improve the country's health system.

Vietnam currently lacks comprehensive statistics on births, deaths and disease.

The five-year project was funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, a group which has invested heavily in the poor and disadvantaged, particularly in Vietnamese health and education.

Project Manager UQ Associate Professor Peter Hill said a team of more than 20 UQ and Vietnamese health and statistics experts would work together.

Associate Professor Hill said improving cause of death data was the main focus of the project but it was also about allocating the right resources and health policies to areas of need in a cost effective way.

"Vietnamese academic researchers and government personnel will be trained in policy, advanced mortality, burden of disease and cost-effectiveness analyses," Associate Professor Hill said.

"By the end of this project, they'll have much stronger systems in terms of recording mortality and in their local capacity to continue these studies and interpret the data."

Previous studies have indicated a range of growing health problems in Vietnam.

Some of these include: motor vehicle injury from not wearing helmets or seat belts, HIV/AIDS, increased cardiovascular disease, diabetes and strokes.

Malaria, malnutrition and respiratory infections also persist in many areas.

"We know that Vietnam is in an economic and social transition," Associate Professor Hill said.

"What we don't know is to what extent that transition is impacting on the pattern of disease -- bringing with it the problems of dietary and lifestyle change.

"Until we do those studies we can only guess what they are.

"The decision for future health cannot be made on 'best guesses' nor can evidence be extrapolated from data from neighbouring countries."

He said the Vietnam project grew out of The Atlantic Philanthropies' UQ scholarship program for Masters of Public Health and the links it provided to Vietnam's leading medical universities.

UQ will work mainly with Vietnam's Ministry of Health, Hanoi Medical University, the Health Strategy and Policy Institute, Hanoi School of Public Health, the General Statistics Office and other medical universities.

The Project Director, UQ's Professor Alan Lopez, said UQ and Harvard University were the only institutions in the world that had the expertise to provide large-scale evidence based health policy.

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MEDIA: Associate Professor Hill (+61 7 3365 5432, peter.hill@sph.uq.edu.au) or
Miguel Holland at UQ Communications (+61 7 3365 2619, m.holland@uq.edu.au)


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