Commission Report: The View from Asia

Five months after the Commission on the Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century issued its report, health professionals in Asian countries are considering ways to implement some of the recommendations into their own national systems for medical education. National teams from Bangladesh, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with observer delegations from China and India, met in Hanoi on April 28 to discuss their national situations and plans. CMB President Lincoln Chen, who served as co-chair of the Commission with Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk, joined the Hanoi consultation.

In its report, the Commission outlined a new generation of reforms needed to meet the demands of health systems in an interdependent world. The Hanoi consultation provided an opportunity for the Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese representatives to discuss the plans they are drafting to adapt the Commission’s recommendations to meet their national contexts and needs.

Steps taken in the five countries to catalyze health professional education include the following:

  • In January, Thailand brought together more than 30 deans of medicine, nursing, and public health to consider issues raised in the Commission report.
  • The Public Health Foundation of India and the India National Board of Medical Education co-hosted a symposium on “Health Professionals for a New Century: Transforming Education to Strengthen Health Systems in an Interdependent World,” on April 4 in New Delhi.
  • In Bangladesh, the Commission report was launched on April 6 at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka, with more than 30 policymakers and educators in attendance.
  • Vietnam’s Ministry of Health held a workshop on April 25 at the Hanoi School of Public Health to discuss the Commission’s findings and set up a plan of action to seek input from relevant ministries and universities.
  • China released a Chinese translation of the Commission report in February and, on May 5 in Beijing, launched a China Commission to focus on medical education reform.

While planning is at different stages in the five countries, attendees at the Hanoi meeting anticipate opportunities where broader Asian cooperation could strengthen their respective national efforts in situation analysis, information sharing, and joint activities. The representatives proposed creating a five-country, multiprofessional network to exchange information on research methods, case studies of innovations, and other information on professional education reform.

Further details on the Commission on the Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century and efforts to implement its recommendations can be found at www.healthprofessionals21.org.