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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid