VIETNAM ONE HEALTH UNIVERSITY NETWORK (VOHUN)
VOHUN, the Vietnam One Health University Network, was established in November 22nd 2011 with the support of USAID and the RESPOND project, bringing 17 faculties from 10 medical, public health, veterinary and nursing universities in Vietnam together to promote and develop a backbone for the One Health (OH) concept in Vietnam. Three core universities and faculties (Hanoi School of Public Health – HSPH, Hanoi Medical University – HMU, Hanoi University of Agriculture – HUA) were chosen initially as they were seen to be leaders in their respective fields, and covered a range of disciplines deemed to be important for the One Health approach. Following the establishment of the Network, each group of core universities worked with USAID and RESPOND in their respective countries to develop National OH networks, involving a larger group of related faculties, to promote and disseminate the outcomes and benefits of the network more widely.
The OH approach involves many different disciplines, working trans-disciplinarily, to strengthen the ability of professionals working in outbreak investigation and response to react strategically, effectively and efficiently to future emerging infectious diseases in the region. Many of the professionals working in outbreak response (doctors, veterinarians, nurses, public health professionals, ecologists, epidemiologists etc.) work in government agencies and have undergone university training, and therefore it is easy to see how embedding the philosophy of OH in the training of these young professionals is the most appropriate way to ensure that the approach is strongly supported and implemented in the future.
The vision of VOHUN is fostering sustainable transdisciplinary capacity building to respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases. And the VOHUN mission is to leverage the training, education, and research capacities of the university network to build the skills, knowledge and attitude base for OH leaders. Four main objectives of VOHUN are i) to buid cardes of trained professionals to be OH and future leaders, ii) to promote the competencies of OH professionals, iii) to build a OH evidence base through research activity, and iv) to promote and advance the OH approach for control of emerging and re-emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases.
The purpose of the Strategic Framework is to provide a ‘roadmap’ to guide planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting of VOHUN activities implemented by OH professionals.
- Scope of work
The Strategic plan comprises four components that are aligned with the functional areas for VOHUN activities. The component areas are:
Component 1. To build cadres of trained professionals to be One Health current and future leaders
- Development of OH core competency
The development and agreement on appropriate One Health Core Competencies (OHCC), both National and Regional, is the critical first step that needs to be taken in order to transform the future workforce and provide the new graduate species required by governments and other employers working in the One Health arena in the future.
- Institutional curriculum mapping
Concurrent with OHCC development, the VOHUN faculties will work with national and international OH professionals to map their current curricula for OH related programs, activities, and courses. In addition to these, it will be essential to map the policy issues (both institutional and governmental), and staff competencies, that need to be addressed before changes to curricula or training can be made. After gathering information on any existing or previous curriculum mapping activities, and on current institutional and regional needs related to OH curriculum mapping activities, a proposed national training workshop will be held to provide training in curriculum mapping skills.
- Strengthing teaching and learning methodologies
In order that the OHCCs can be effectively integrated into institutional curricula, it is vital that a gap analysis is conducted in each faculty to determine the existing teacher skills, and the teaching methods and styles used, and to use this to identify appropriate methods to address the gaps.
There is a need for the integration of appropriate applied teaching methodologies to ensure that OH skills and attitudes are effectively modeled and conveyed. As gaps are identified by assessment against OHCCs and curriculum mapping, the appropriate methodologies will be applied to support lecturer/trainer and student understanding and practice of the OH approach.
Numerous methods of integration will be utilized, including, but not limited to, problem-based learning (PBL), Scenario-based learning (SBL), interactive lectures, participatory field exercises and journal clubs, simulations, debates, and trans-disciplinary case studies and group discussions. Through twinning and faculty exchange between International OH professionals and VOHUN faculties, as well as among VOHUN faculties, partners will model and facilitate practice and evaluation of innovative teaching methods. An emphasis will be placed on utilizing skills and applying OH behaviors, not only within a discipline, but also across disciplines within the country and the region.
- Alignment of OHCCs with existing curricula
The VOHUN faculties will have developed appropriate and relevant nationally relevant OHCCs, and their concurrent curriculum mapping activities will have identified any gaps in current academic programs related to OH. As well, through government and private industry discussions a workforce assessment will guide the investment decisions. The VOHUN faculties and international OH professionals can then work closely together to assess the results and other identified faculty needs against the locally developed OHCCs, and will work collaboratively to address any gaps and other issues.
Twinning will occur both amongst VOHUN faculties, and between the international OH professional universities and VOHUN faculties, depending on the strengths and weaknesses revealed in the analysis phase. Workshops, trainings, guest lectures, and faculty member partnering and exchanges will be some of the methods used to ensure alignment of the OHCCs with the existing curricula. In addition, new modules and innovative inter-disciplinary courses will be developed collaboratively between institutions and faculties to ensure that Network members are ideally positioned to address current and future government and other employer needs.
- Professional development
Attendance at conferences serves a number of important functions for network member faculties, including professional development for junior faculty and postgraduates, opportunities for networking and raising the profile of senior faculty, opportunities for government advocacy, and opportunities for development of collaborative research programs. In addition, conferences provide excellent opportunities for network members to highlight the network and emphasize its achievements.
Component 2. To build an One Health evidence base through research activity
- Evaluate and address national One Health research needs
There is a need to support network faculties to strategically evaluate the OH related research currently underway. Compiling an inventory of current research and then identifying opportunities for trans-disciplinary cooperation in ongoing projects will be based on an identification of gaps, needs, and opportunities in OH research.
Based on the preliminary evaluation, in-country meetings with the faculty representatives and government agencies in each country can identify OH problems necessitating further research with the goal of developing collaborative research proposals within the country, or between countries, to submit for funding to national or international funding agencies. Grant writing workshops will be offered to VOHUN faculty members to meet grant application requirements of government and private institutions funding OH research. The proposed meetings will also help identify feasible strategies to put in place national systems that would coordinate OH research across faculties.
- Applied OH research collaboration and development
Traditionally, universities have worked closely with governments to provide applied research programs to address national and international needs. In addition, well-designed applied research programs are essential to provide the evidence base required to promote and expand the importance of the OH approach to governments and other stakeholders.
The proposal is that work among VOHUN members to strengthen both faculty and student understanding of, and engagement in, OH relevant applied research, by broadening trans-disciplinary research perspectives in current training programs beyond lab-based research and facilitating the creation of trans-disciplinary research teams.
- Developing publishing and presenting skills
The lecturer/researcher and students at VOHUN faculties will be proposed to work with international OH professionals to strengthen their skills to successfully publish the results of their applied research, to present their work at OH and other relevant scientific conferences, and to write grants for future research funding.
Publication skills will be developed at intensive writing workshops where participants from VOHUN faculties are paired with mentors to work together on manuscript preparation for their own completed research projects.
Students and faculty will be given the opportunity to present the results of their research at OH meetings and conferences. Coaching and mentoring will be provided to strengthen the ability of students and staff to prepare abstracts for conferences, to improve oral presentation skills and to design posters to showcase their activities.
Component 3. Outreach to governments
One of the over-arching goals of the Network is to develop and strengthen the linkages between universities and governments in the country, in particular with relation to current and future government human resource and applied research needs. Country will determine specific activities for government engagement on an individual basis. This includes, but is not limited to, aligning training and workforce development with country-level needs.
The alignment of VOHUN activities to address emerging disease threats with the needs of governments not only requires a working knowledge of those needs, but also an active involvement and understanding of the roles of universities by government.
One activity for government advocacy already voiced by VOHUN faculties is the need for OH explanatory materials in local languages for distribution to government ministries and other relevant groups. Support will also be provided for workshops and stakeholder meetings and for government representatives to attend national and regional OH and other relevant meetings.
Component 4. One Health Communication
To provide a ‘roadmap’ to guide planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting of communication interventions implemented by OH communications stakeholders.
“Communications” is a broad term encompassing a wide range of activities aimed at achieving different operational, strategic, and behavioural outcomes.
For the purposes of the VOHUN strategic framework communications refers to activities (or groups of activities) that contribute to achieving behavioural outcomes that increase knowledge and practice of OH approach, and reduce the risk of emergence/re-emergence, amplification and spread of infectious diseases of significant public health concern.
- Participation in exhibitions and forums on education and training for graduate and post-graduate students, with an emphasis on disseminating information on the OH approach.
- Inclusion of a number of oral and poster presentations at relevant national and international conferences and workshops.
- Media articles and press releases to report significant events or milestones in acceptance and integration of the OH approach in Vietnamese universities and institutions.
Component 5. Supervision, Evaluation and Sustainability
National Coordinating Office (NCO)
- The NCO is established as a single point of contact for all OH Network communications and information.
- The NCO is developed to be a central hub of communication and information for all VOHUN members.
- The NCO is the coordinating body for all OH activities in Vietnam.
- The NCO provides and promotes an understanding of OH activities among policy makers, scientists and researchers in Vietnam.
- The Government of Vietnam has increased awareness to consider universities a resource on policies relating to OH activities.
Supervision and Evaluation
- Use VOHUN NCO team evaluation before and after the implementation of each of the activities to ensure training and learning goals were accomplished.
- Electronic pre- and post-evaluation forms will be developed and provided to all potential participants through email.
- All completed evaluation forms will be analyzed and interpreted by the VOHUN NCO.
- The VOHUN NCO will develop a long-term funding strategy and will continue to support and enhance collaboration between universities and the Government of Vietnam.
- Participating VOHUN members will be able to conduct a OH Short Course and have developed short and longer term plans and strategies for integration of OH and the OHCCs into existing curricula and research activities.
- Strong and sustainable long-term relationships will be established between participating VOHUN members and international OH professionals that will continue to present opportunities for joint research and collaboration between the institutions.
- Strong and sustainable relationships will be established between universities in regional and international that will support continued opportunities for information sharing and collaboration in teaching and research throughout the world.