Strengthening Public Health Management Capacity in Vietnam: Preparing Local Public Health Workers for New Roles in a Decentralized Health System

Mai Hoa Do, MD, PhD; Thi Thu Ha Bui, PhD; Van Tuong Phan, PhD; Hoang Long Nguyen, MD, MPH, PhD; Thuy Anh Duong, PhD; Bao Chau Le, MD, MPH; Thi Thuy Linh Pham, MPH; Minh Hoang Nguyen, MPH; Phuong Thuy Nguyen, MPH; Michael Malison, MD, MPA

Health sector decentralization has created an urgent need to strengthen public health management capacity in many countries throughout the developing world. This article describes the establishment of a national management training network in Vietnam that used Project-Based Learning to strengthen management competencies of HIV program workers and linked training to measurable improvement in HIV/AIDS public health program outcomes. Skills were taught using a combination of classroom learning and mentored fieldwork. From 2005 to 2015, 827 HIV/AIDS program managers were trained with this method throughout Vietnam by trainers in 3 regional training centers. A total of 218 applied learning projects were carried out by trainees during this period; 132 resulted in measurable improvements in HIV/AIDS program outputs, and 86 produced well-organized plans for implementing, monitoring, and evaluating HIV/AIDS intervention strategies. Vietnam’s management training network represents an important advancement in public health workforce development that helps prepare workers for new roles and responsibilities in a decentralized health system.

Key words: health sector decentralization, project-based learning, public health management training