News / Asia

    Aging Nations Look to Vietnam to Fill Nursing Gap

    Lucien Blanchard, general manager of the Vietnam-France Hospital, signs a form for a nurse outside the facility in capital city Hanoi, March 2003.
    Lucien Blanchard, general manager of the Vietnam-France Hospital, signs a form for a nurse outside the facility in capital city Hanoi, March 2003.
    Marianne Brown
    Two countries with the world’s oldest populations, Japan and Germany, are training geriatric nurses in Vietnam to help fill critical health care gaps at home.
     
    This month, 100 young Vietnamese are heading to Germany as part of a new project to train geriatric nurses for work in the European country. The trainees have just finished a six-month language and culture course in Hanoi, and they will spend the next two years in a vocational training program. If they pass the final exam, they can work in Germany as fully qualified geriatric nurses.

    One of them, 24-year-old Huong Thi Thi, said she is excited about the move. “In Germany there is modern medicine and nursing. In Vietnam, particularly caring for the elderly, is very new. I want to come to Germany to gain more knowledge and experience in caring for the elderly.”
     
    Germany is Europe’s biggest economy, but it is facing a demographic crisis as low birth rates combine with longer life spans. More than one fifth of the population is older than 65, and that percentage is expected to increase in the coming years.
     
    Rising need

    As a result, the number of elderly people needing care is expected to increase by more than a million in 2030, according to the German international development agency, GIZ.
     
    Dominik Ziller, GIZ’s director of general migration, said, “We know we have a lack of qualified workforce in the health sector today, and we also know that in our aging German society the number of people who will need these caregivers and nurses and geriatric nurses will increase dramatically.”
     
    By contrast, 60 per cent of Vietnam’s population was born after the war in 1975 and the country falls short of employing its entire potential workforce. Most children are expected to look after their parents, or parents-in-law at home when they get old.
     
    The pilot project is not a quick-fix solution, and the project is still in the early stages so its success cannot be gauged yet, said Ziller. One potential problem, however, could be the language barrier.

    “It’s more difficult for someone speaking Vietnamese to learn German than somebody speaking another European language with similar grammar. We know our young people who have undergone language training here will need additional language training,” he said.

    Japan's aging population

    It’s a problem that Japan, the fastest aging country in the world, also is facing when training foreign nurses. Later this year for the first time 150 Vietnamese candidates will go to the East Asian country for two year’s training at Japanese hospitals, after which they will sit for the national nursing exam.
     
    Japan already trains nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia, but the system has come under criticism for being too strict. All applicants must take the same exam in Japanese, but it is very difficult for foreign candidates because of the language barrier, said Yoko Tsuruya, first secretary at the Japanese embassy in Hanoi.
     
    She said foreign nationals are given some help, though, to complete the test. For example, they are given more time, and Japanese words are transliterated into international pronunciation.
     
    To improve the training system, instead of continuing their language courses when they arrive in Japan, as nursing candidates from other countries currently do, the Vietnamese trainees will go straight to their hospital placement and combine language studies with practical experience.
     
    Despite Japan’s rapidly aging population, admitting foreign workers for some industries remains controversial. Critics say foreign labor could lead to lower standards of work or increase unemployment.
     
    However, there is little opposition to the intake of nurses.
     
    Tsuruya said not many people have opportunities to pass the nursing exam, so the opposition against this kind of program is less than the opposition to labor.
     
    Despite Vietnam’s youthful population, rapid urbanization has led to demographic changes of its own. Changing lifestyles means fewer people choose to look after their elderly parents at home. Trainee nurse Huong said that in the future, she thinks Vietnam will need more hospitals for the elderly, but said learning the skills abroad can help Vietnamese people develop this sector for themselves.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    September 11, 2013 1:59 AM
    I do not think recruiting caregiver candidates from foreign contries works well to fill the gap of nursing the eldery. First and foremost, they could learn the skills how to care for the eldery but such skills are not enough to satisfy old people. What they need most is the communication with caregivers hopefully natives or relatives. As for foreign candidates, they would not rather live and work overseas forever. It is clear they leave Germany and Japan before long and the shortage of their nursing staff would continue. Nurses trainned in foreign countires would also come to notice that the obtainned skills would work only a little in their homelands. Original nursing staff and systems should be built in every countries fitting to their own traditional culture. Thank you.
    In Response

    by: Ulchi from: US
    September 13, 2013 9:44 AM
    Nursing old fokes is a very patient job with love giving care but not with a big pay check. American need those foreign workers as they used to hire Philippinas elementary school teachers to save school budget. German and Japanese found a solution in Vietnam.

    by: J.J.Reyes from: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
    September 10, 2013 12:00 PM
    The current immigration policy won't allow for the entry of needed caregivers from developing nations. For Americans seeking affordable assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care facilities, the solution is to go overseas. A new business is outsourcing the elderly to Asia and countries south of the border.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora