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OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of a training and supportive supervision intervention in strengthening the capacity of pharmacy staff in Vietnam to deliver client-oriented, accurate healthcare information and appropriate services for childhood diarrhoea and emergency contraceptive pills (ECP). METHODS: Pre- and post-intervention study using a cross-sectional design. Pharmacy staff participated in 3 days of training on customer relations, good pharmacy practice, childhood diarrhoea and ECP over a period of 1 month, consisting of lectures, discussion, question-and-answer sessions and role-playing. We compared baseline and 6-month post-intervention surveys to ascertain changes in knowledge, attitudes and practice of pharmacists, using univariate statistics to find significant differences. RESULTS: More than 1200 pharmacists received training and supportive supervision. After interventions, pharmacy staff knowledge was significantly improved on most of the measured indicators. Knowledge of dehydration symptoms for diarrhoea increased from 19% to 88%, and for side effects of ECP increased from 27% to 77%. While assessment of actual practice revealed that this knowledge was not always used, significant improvement was observed. Before interventions, 12% gave information on dehydration symptoms but 45% did so afterwards. The proportion giving information on side effects of ECP increased from 13% to 54%. CONCLUSIONS: Providing a programme of training and supportive supervision is an effective way to improve knowledge and practice of pharmacists at private pharmacies in Vietnam. These improvements have the potential to lead to better community health care.