Finnish-Vietnamese co-operation in elderly care takes off

Holistic solutions in elderly care, covering remote population areas are increasingly in demand in the rapidly ageing Asian countries. Heta Hytönen, from FinlandCare program writes about Vietnamese-Finnish cooperation within elderly care and a delegation visit to Vietnam.

“Many South-East Asian countries are open-minded when it comes to co-operating with Nordic healthcare service providers. Large infrastructural and financial reforms are taking place in the area, which opens doors for those brave enough and equipped to grab them.”

From ”Nuoc Phan Lan” co-operation to care collaboration in Vietnam
Vietnamese-Finnish cooperation goes back decades, where Finnish water expertise has paved the way for other Finnish competence areas such as green technologies, healthcare education and solutions.

“Approximately 10 % out of a population of 96 million in Vietnam is now over 60 years old. Vietnam is one of the most drastically ageing countries in the world. In the capital Hanoi there are only five nursing homes covering a total population of seven million people; the need for care homes is tangible.

The 60+ market is expected to rise rapidly when the upper middle class citizens will retire. As the central family takes the lion’s share in taking care of their elderly, services and applications for remote care is estimated to become increasingly important.

The Ministry of Health in Vietnam has decided to focus on the problem at hand and renew the entire elderly care system. Money is allocated to these projects from the government, international funding agencies, as well as private investments.

‘In a nutshell, Vietnamese health officials are looking for high-quality elderly care services, rehabilitative technologies and healthcare engineering, as well as hospital management,’ states Ms. Do Hoang Anh, the managing director of OriHome, one of the first elderly care homes in Hanoi.

“Vietnamese Ministry of Health is looking for concepts around focal themes: elderly care, rehabilitation, hygiene“, Do Hoang Anh adds.  In her opinion, with so few care homes the market is wide open for new providers to mould the modus operandi nation-wide.

Finland a tempting technical partner for Vietnam
Vietnam is open for all kinds of partnerships regarding Finland, be they financial, technical or educational. There are several high-level decision-makers who have expressed their interest in collaborating with Finnish companies in reforming the Vietnamese elderly care sector.

Professor Pham Thang, a revered Vietnamese gerontologist (elderly care specialist) and director of the National Gerontology Institute in Hanoi visited Finland to meet FinlandCare rehabilitation and elderly care companies, to see what Finland has to offer.

“Ministry of Health is finally getting an elderly care department. We want to do a pilot project hopefully in 2017, where elderly care services and facilities are renewed. A basic service package will hopefully be developed with foreign partners”, states Professor Pham Thang.

Joint offerings and devotion needed from the Finnish side
German and US providers have an undeniable foothold especially in the Asian healthcare technology industry. However, Finns are extremely equipped to form clusters around integral themes for hospitals, and this kind of well-round process thinking is what we should cherish and invest in. Finns are good in seeing the big picture.

“What we need is constant and devoted co-operation from Finnish companies that are equipped to come here more than once. Sporadic one-time visits gain little. Rule of thumb in this business is patience “, says Ilkka-Pekka Similä, the Finnish Ambassador for Vietnam.

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Also, the Head of Region India & APAC of Finpro, Mr. Juha Miikkulainen stresses the importance of co-operation between companies and internationalization organizations such as Finpro when entering the market area. Currently for example FinlandCare is active in the area. Miikkulainen encourages more companies to get involved in the growing APAC region healthcare markets and get Finnish SME’s acquainted with Team Finland’s resources globally.

Text and pictures: Heta Hytönen

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