Public health indicators in Vietnam, having become more open and established itself as a dynamic emerging country since the 1980s, are showing consistent improvement. With a fledgling but growing pharmaceutical industry and already providing platforms for high-level training, the country seemed to be a good base for Fondation Pierre Fabre when it decided to create a transregional Master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences programme in the 2010s.
Pursuing the work already done in Phnom Penh and Vientiane to upgrade their universities of pharmacy, this post-graduate programme known as Master Mekong Pharma is meant to increase the number of drug experts in Southeast Asia. It is mainly designed for qualified pharmacists in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and allows them to earn a French Master’s 2 degree.
The project was an exciting one, but complex to develop, particularly since the French diploma was being transferred to Southeast Asia. After designing the overall plan, Fondation Pierre Fabre had to convince the region’s three universities, as well as three other French universities, to assign volunteer teachers to the cause. The Foundation has also been involved in financing the Master and day-to-day coordination in the field. It will provide support until 2016.
In 2012, the first class was recruited. The students underwent general education in the first year before specialising, in their second year, in drug quality control (in Hanoi), pharmacokinetic (in Phnom Penh), or correct use of medicines and pharmacovigilance (in Vientiane). This class graduated in October 2014.
The Master Mekong Pharma is meant to serve as a springboard for healthcare South East Asia. The opportunities presented to future graduates will be the proof of its success: they should be able to increase the quality of local higher education, improve the hospital care sector, contribute to the work of public structures, such as drug agencies, but also support the private sector that has great needs in Southeast Asia.