Health Development

OT & Hand Rehab Webinar

Hands play a vital role in daily routine of a person. A variety of disorders and injuries can severely affect the function of the hands. As a specialty practice area of Occupational Therapy (OT), hand rehabilitation, especially with the use of assistive devices, is an essential solution to help the clients gain back their independence and improve the quality of life.

Aiming to provide a platform for the OT insiders to exchange knowledge in this specialty, the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) is delighted to bring you the webinar ‘Hand Rehabilitation: Without Limit, Within Reach’. The event will feature speakers from the Department of OT, Manipal College of Health Professions (MCHP), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), India.

The details are as followed:

Time: 14:00-16:00, Sunday, January 16th, 2022 (GMT + 7)

Venue: Zoom (Language: Vietnamese & English (twoway interpretation available)

Register at: https://bit.ly/3f8pbNG (Meeting link to be sent automatically to registered participants. Please use your real name!)

Deadline for registration: January 14th, 2022

For further enquiries, please contact: Ms.Tu Phi Yen (MCNV Communication and PRs Officer): yen.tuphi@mcnv.vn

Agenda:

I. Presentation:

1/ Role of low tech adaptive device in improving functional outcome (Dr. Shovan Saha, Department of OT, MCHP, MAHE)

2/ Role splint and therapeutic exercise in case of degloving hand injury (Tuan Nguyen, Lecturer of Hai Duong Medical Technical University, B.A, Master’s student, MCHP, MAHE).

3/ Application of splint in hand therapy. (Dat Pham, Lecturer of HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy, B.A, Master’s student, MCHP, MAHE)

II. Q&A./.

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First milestone in SALT professional education

On November 3rd & 5th, 14 students of the Master program in Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) successful completed the thesis defense at the HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy (UMP). MCNV Country Director Pham Dung attended the event.

The SALT Master program is conducted as part of the project “Development of Speech and Language Therapy Education in Vietnam” under the DISTINCT project by VietHealth, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). MCNV is in charge of project implementation and also contributes part of the funding. The Trinh Foundation Australia (TFA) participates in this project as a technical consulting partner.

The thesis defense takes place on November 3rd and 5th at HCMC UMP. Photo: HCMC UMP

The completion of the Master thesis defense is a significant milestone in developing SALT, achieved amidst the most complicated period of COVID-19 outbreak in HCMC. Despite the inevitable challenge brought about by the pandemic, MCNV and partners managed to come up with a set of adaptation solutions to minimize the negative impacts.

Since COVID-19 hits Vietnam, most of the training activities had been shifted from direct to virtual training method. The curriculum was revised, adapted while new teaching materials were developed. A professional Zoom account was maintained to facilitate online learning. Along with that, memberships of Simucase, a credible clinical simulation platform were purchased for all students and supervisors, enabling the users to assess, diagnose, make recommendations, and provide intervention for virtual patients.

For their thesis research, students received continuous support from experienced supervisors of HCMC UMP and universities in Australia.

(These researches will soon be published on Website: http://speechtherapyvn.net and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ngonngutrilieu.mcnv/)

MCNV Vietnam Country Director Pham Dung (3rd from the right) at the event. Photo: HCMC UMP

This achievement would have never been accomplished without MCNV’s precious partners and friends, TFA, HCMC UMP, SALT specialists, lecturers and mentors. Based on this initial success, we look forward to our continual fruitful cooperation, to further contribute to the development of SALT and Rehabilitation in Vietnam in general./.

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50 patient monitors donated to designated COVID-19 hospitals in Vietnam

In response to the shortage of equipment in COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, the Philips Foundation, Philips Vietnam and the Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV) have donated 50 patient monitors to 13 hospitals and healthcare centers in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Dong Nai, and Binh Duong.

Representatives of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee in HCMC, Philips Foundation and Philips Vietnam hand over the first five patient monitors to hospital of the HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy on September 28th, 2021.

The first five patient monitors were handed over to the hospital of the HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy by representatives of the donors and the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee in HCMC on September 28th.

In healthcare, patient monitor is a valuable tool that helps provide information on vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation, which will be used by medical and nursing staff to triage and monitor patients’ conditions during Covid-19 treatment.

Patient monitor is a valuable tool that helps provide information on vital signs.

Vietnam is confronted with a 4th wave of COVID-19 since the end of April 2021, with an increasing infection rate in more than 60 cities and provinces that cause patient overload and serious medical equipment shortage, especially in designated COVID-19 hospitals in the South of Vietnam. To ensure there are sufficient beds to treat the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients, many temporary field hospitals are being newly built to share the patient load with current healthcare facilities – often requiring new medical equipment.

“We believe that when technological innovation and collaboration are combined, we can support the medical force at critical times while meeting future needs for the long run,” said Ms. Margot Cooijmans, Director of Philips Foundation. “We hope that the installation of critical patient monitors will be of great benefit in managing the influx of COVID-19 patients for the hospitals in Vietnam,” she emphasized.

The handover of equipment to field hospital No.6 (HCMC) on September 29th.

“I am happy that we can contribute, with support from the Philips Foundation and in collaboration with MNCV and Fatherland Front of Vietnam, to the local departments of health with this donation. Our support intends to partly mitigate the shortage of medical equipment in the designated COVID-19 hospitals in Vietnam managing the high volume of seriously ill patients,” said Mr. Hugo Luik, Country Manager of Philips Vietnam.

In the afternoon of September 30th, 2021, the handover of 50 patient monitors were successfully completed.

“Amidst the complicated ongoing development of COVID-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City and the neighboring localities, via the donation of patient monitors, Philips Foundation has provided vital support to healthcare facilities in the treatment of COVID-19. MCNV is honored to join the Philips Foundation in delivering essential supplies to those facilities. We hope that the COVID-19 will soon be controlled and life will soon return to normal for everyone,” said Mr. Pham Dung, MCNV Country Director./.

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MCNV joins Quang Tri frontline fighters in the battle against COVID-19

MCNV representative (left) presents aid package to Huong Lap Healthcare Center.

Located amidst steep mountain slopes and winding, treacherous roads, Huong Lap is a poor, impoverished commune in Quang Tri Province, on the border with Laos. After being striken by the historic devastating flashfloods and landslides last October-November, the commune, at the moment, is finding itseft in the middle of the fierce battle against the fourth wave of COVID-19.

During the historic flood sweeping through Vietnam’s central region in October and November 2020, Huong Lap was completely secluded.

Since the start of the pandemic, Vietnam’s widely praised response to contain the virus has depended on three main pillars: (i) strict border controls, (ii) effective isolation of cases and their contacts and (iii) mobilization of public support. For the commune of Huong Lap, this meant maintaining a high vigilance along the porous border with Laos and their small healthcare center had to double as a clinic and quarantine facility.

Border guards had to spend extended periods away from their families, stay in basic border huts and maintain regular patrols along the dense forest tracks used as illegal crossings into Vietnam. For health workers, it meant testing and quarantining people who may have been at risk of infection from COVID-19. Since April 2021, Huong Lap Healthcare Center has quarantined 229 cases returning from localities affected by the pandemic across the country and 9 cases of illegal entry.

The aid package sponsored for Huong Lap Healthcare Center consists of four-layer medical masks, hand sanitizers, infrared thermometers, aneroid monitor for measuring blood pressure and solar-power lightings.

In order to assist Huong Lap commune in the battle against COVID-19, from May 28th to June 4th, 2021, the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) presented aids worth over VND 50 million (~EUR 1790) to Huong Lap Healthcare Center and Border guard station.

The aid package sponsored for Huong Lap Healthcare Center consists of 5 aneroid monitor for measuring blood pressure, 5 digital infrared thermometers, 50 boxes of four-layer antimicrobial masks, 50 bottle of hand sanitizers (500ml/each) and 6 solar-powered lightings. The total value of the aid is VND 19.7 million.

The Huong Lap Healthcare Center has been providing basic healthcare services to local residents, majorly people of Van Kieu ethnic minority. On average, the Center receives 15-20 clients a day. During peak time, for instance, monthly vaccination day, this number can hit 200. At the moment, the Center has been struggling with several challenges caused by limited infrastructures, including power outages. Solar-powered lighting therefore is essential to help the Center maintain operations.

“We are extremely grateful for MCNV’s precious support. Your generosity has not only enabled us to upgrade our clinic and purchase vital equipment but also motivates us to strive harder in the battle against COVID-19.” exclaimed Doctor Nguyen Thi Mui, Head of Huong Lap Healthcare Center.

The solar-powered lightings installed at Huong Lap Heathcare Center

On this occasion, MCNV visited Huong Lap commune Border Guards Station and presented an aid package MCNV consisting of 02 gas stoves, gas tanks, electrical wires, 12 water containers and mini water filters, with total value of VND 31.5 million. The aid aims to help improve the living and working condition of the border guard forces, who have been dedicated vast efforts to control illegal entry in order to help prevent the locality from COVID-19 transmission.

On behalf of Huong Lap commune Border Guard Station, Colonel Nguyen Dinh Phu, expressed his gratitude to the timely and practical supports of MCNV to improve the living conditions of his officers stationed at the Huong Lap border patrol post. “My officers now have more energy, and their morale is high to continue their vital work, thanks to MCNV,” he said.

Colonel Nguyen Dinh Phu (left) installs the water filter.

In the next couple weeks, MCNV will provide electrical wires worth VND 20 million (~EUR 715) to support another Border guard station in Quang Tri in supplying power to new border checkpoints./.


Quang Tri is MCNV’s key beneficiary locality, where the organization started its supports for Vietnam in 1974. For the past 15 years, MCNV has diversified its fields of support for Vietnam by implementing projects in livelihood, response to climate change,social inclusion, etc. In addition to long-term development project, currently MCNV has been coordinating the effort of donors in and out of Vietnam to implement respond-to-crisis activities.

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MOU signed with MOH on promoting Rehabilitation in Vietnam

On today morning (June 2), together with representatives of 7 local and international NGOs, MCNV Country Director Pham Dung signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Medical Services Administration on cooperation in Rehabilitation.

Under the framework of the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded agreement, collaboration activities will majorly focus on development of healthcare models and rehabilitation facilities for the disabled in the country, improve the law and policies on rehabilitation as well as improve the capacity of rehabilitation centres in several project areas.

The MoUs express the commitment of NGOs to effectively implement activities to reinforce Rehabilitation services and assistance for people with disabilities in Vietnam.

08 NGOs participating in the MoU signing ceremony are:
Action for Community Development Center (ACDC); Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH); Humanity and Inclusion (HI); the International Center (IC); Institute of Population, Health and Development (PHAD); Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP); Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV).

On the same days, 08 NGOs also participated in a Workshop on Rehabilitation Provisions under the revised laws on Medical Examinations and Treatment (LET).

According to the National Survey on People with Disabilities by the General Statistics Office (GSO), in 2016, over 7% of the population aged 2 years and older, (equal to around 6.2 million), have a disability.
These percentages are expected to rise with the aging of the population, leading to a sharp increase in demand for Rehabilitation in the future.

For more information:

https://vietnamnews.vn/society/717596/msa-partners-with-eight-ngos-in-improving-rehabilitation-activities.html

https://vietnamtimes.org.vn/eight-ngos-support-vietnam-improving-rehabilitation-activities-20987.html

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Improving nutrition for hundreds of Cham H’roi children

Located in the remote mountainous area of Phu Yen province, 100% of Phu Mo commune’s residents are of Cham H’roi ethnic group. 25% of the children in the community are malnourished. Being aware of this situation, MCNV has cooperated with local partners in Phu Yen to bring about better meals and better lives to the children.

Malnutrition obsession

On contrary to the name which means “rich and fertile”, Phu Mo is known as the highest, remotest and poorest commune in the southern central province of Phu Yen.

With a population of more than 3,000, 70% of the local residents are impoverished or living on the threshold of poverty.

Local people earn their living on shifting cultivation, earning for their livings mostly by planting cassava. Due to the instable price, this crop only can help them generate a limited and instable income. Rice, cassava leaves, wild vegetables and chili mixed with salt are what usually seen in their daily meal.

According to a survey conducted by MCNV and Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy in March 2018, 76.7% of the households in Phu Mo and Xuan Quang 1 communes (Dong Xuan district) did not have sufficient food to eat each year. Besides low income, people in these localities face with another challenge in access to food, which is the shortage of supply, since most nearby groceries only sell dried food like instant noodles, porridge and snack for kids. Meanwhile, in kindergartens, neither lunch nor breakfast is provided due to the lack of funding.

In Phu Mo commune, out of 100 kids, 25 suffer from malnourishment, in the form of stunting or underweight. In some villages, this rate even exceeds 50%.

Mang Thi Su, 25 years old, is a mother of two children: one boy (6 years old) and one girl (3 years old). Both of them were pale and weak, due to malnutrition. Feeding the kids was a tough job for the young mommy, since regardless of how hard she tried, her children kept refusing to eat.

Mang Thi Su prepares a meal for her children

According to MCNV, the high rate of malnutrition in Phu Yen is caused by several factors. Apart from economic constraint and scarcity of quality food supply, parents’ lack of understanding and knowledges in childcare and nutrition is a critical factor which must be tackled.

Awareness change

In June 2018, the concerns of Su and other women in Phu Mo commune began to be relieved thanks to the project “Scaling up of malnutrition fighting initiatives based on agricultural solutions in the mountainous areas of Vietnam and Laos ”(referred to as Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture – NSA), implemented by MCNV.

Thanks to the project, for the first time, Su gained basic knowledge in nutrition, learn how to prepare suitable meals for her children with tasty, nutritious yet still affordable dishes.

The instruction of nutritionists and healthcare advisors has enabled Su to diversify the ingredients for the daily meals, and turn them into child-friendly dishes (pleasant to taste and easy to digest). The dishes Su cooks now looks more catchy, as they are added the colors of a variety of healthy ingredients. Some of them are very easy to find in her home garden, such as tomatoes, carrots, eggs, etc.

Nowadays, in Su’s family’s every meal, the pleasure has replaced the worry, and the excitement has filled the eyes of the children. Her home is now full of smile and laugher, instead of the sound of scolding and crying. “He (Su’s son) loves colorful dishes very much. He can eat one bowl or even one and a half bowl of rice with food. I am overwhelmed with joy, especially when he finishes eating, sits on a scale and asks me “Mom, how much do I weigh now?” In the young mom’s eyes, happiness sparkles.

The change in one individual step by step leads to the change of a group and later on spread to several groups. Every month or every week, members of each group gather for a meeting, at which they share about the health and nutrition situation of their children. They often exchange opinions and learn from healthy child-rearing examples and update cases that need to be monitored, practicing how to prepare nutritious and affordable dishes.

Joining hands to solve the malnutrition problem

Improving the community’s awareness about nutrition in childcare is one of the many activities conducted in the NSA project. A holistic approach has been implemented with the close coordination of four sectors: health, agriculture, education and private businesses.

Under the coordination of local health staff, district, commune and village workshops and trainings were implemented. Health workers, leaders of mother groups and pre-school teachers are trained in nutrition and environmental sanitation. Children get regular health checkups, and severely malnourished children receive treatment.

In addition, households are trained to increase production, improve nutrition from their own gardens, fields and yard, for example raising chicken to lay eggs, or intercropping with vegetables and fruits.

To increase the quality of children’s meals, the NSA project also gives funding to preschools to provide in-school lunches and breakfasts, as well as orienting the private sector (food and grocery stores) to sell nutritious products such as porridge, cakes, and cereal flour, and facilitating the household to access nutritional products.

The NSA project is implemented by MCNV in Dong Xuan district in the period of 2017-2020, in cooperation with different partners, including WOTRO, the Vrije University Amsterdam (Netherlands), Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, and Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Not only does it solve the problem of malnutrition among Vietnamese children, the NSA project also supports Lao children in 10 villages of Nong district, Savannakhet province. Currently, the Lao side has completed the initial survey, knowledge sharing and quantitative research survey toolkit, trained on research methods, data analysis, development of intervention plans and organized some initial intervention activities.

MCNV’s nutrition project is an effort towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal No. 2 on hunger eradication, food security, nutritional improvement and agricultural development.

By Phi Yến (Vietnam Times)

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Nutrition sensitive agriculture in Lao PDR and Vietnam

Background

Despite significant development progress in recent years, hunger remains a significant problem in Lao PDR, with 44% of children under 5 years old being malnourished placing their lives at risk and damaging their lifelong health. This issue is particularly severe in Nong District, one of the poorest areas in Lao PDR, and where the people can suffer food shortages for many months in the year. To tackle these problems MCNV takes a nutrition-sensitive approach to its agricultural and livelihoods work within some of poorest villages in the district.

MCNV’s responses

This approach seeks to maximize agricultures contribution to nutrition and recognizes the multiple benefits derived from enjoying a varied and nutritious diet, the social significance of food and the importance of agriculture in supporting rural livelihoods. Instead of focusing exclusively on crop production for the market, villagers use their land to cultivate a variety of commodities including fruits, vegetables, small livestock and fish. In Nong, MCNV has supported this approach by supporting the development of fish ponds, providing seeds and equipment for home gardens and strengthening village veterinary services to ensure healthy livestock. MCNV’s approach to agriculture also entails promoting gender equity, and providing nutrition education so that household resources are used to improve nutrition, especially that of women and young children. For example, the approach looks at the division of labour between men and women, to ensure mothers have enough time to breastfeed their infants. Finally, MCNV adopts a multi-sectoral approach to nutrition linking agriculture to sectors that address other causes of malnutrition, namely education, health and social protection.

Achievements

Through working in partnership with organisations ranging from village development committees to the Ministries of Agriculture, MCNV has improved agricultural production whilst preserving the soil, land and water that villagers depend upon, but most importantly it has helped to reduce hunger and malnutrition improving the health of children with lifelong benefits.

Future direction

In the coming years MCNV is working with the Food and Business Knowledge Platform and VU University in the Netherlands to conduct research into the impacts of nutrition-sensitive agriculture to ensure that it can be scaled-up so many more people in Lao PDR and elsewhere can benefit from this approach.

http://knowledge4food.net/research-project/scaling-up-nutrition-sensitive-agricultural-initiatives-in-vietman-and-laos/

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Learning through health research

Background

Research is vital for informing and underpinning MCNV’s interventions and ensuring that we can understand their impact. It also helps to ensure that knowledge is generated to inspire new ideas, catalyse innovations, and provide evidence to policy makers to inform their decision making and help ensure that policies are effectively implemented. The publication of research also helps to inform others of new processes, methods, techniques and ways of thinking that contributes to improved ways of working to reduce poverty and improve health.

MCNV’s responses

In Lao PDR, MCNV runs the LEARN (Lao Equity through policy Analysis and Research Networks) this a 5 year program that is funded by the EU Commission to enhance the capabilities of public health institutes in Laos. Working together with a range of partners the program aims to ensure that the Laos National Institute of Public Health becomes of centre of excellence for the provision of evidence-based and contextually adapted policy advice. This evidence is used to enhance decision making and improve the implementation of health policies both within Laos and the wider Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS)

LEARN brings together a unique range of partners to achieve this goal. As well as the Laos National Institute of Public Health, LEARN also brings together the University of Health Sciences in Laos, the VU University in the Netherlands, the Hanoi School of Public in Vietnam and MCNV, an international NGO that has been working in the health sector in the GMS for many decades.

These partners come together to help ensure that:

  • Effective and convincing evidence is available to policy-makers who are better able to use it for policy making and programming
  • The National Institute of Public Health and its partners have increased access to finance, skilled human resources and information.
  • Researchers are able to produce high quality research and are able to convincingly present results and recommendations to a wide range of stakeholders.

Expected results

During its 5 year implementation the program will support a range of activities including;

  • International scholarships for Lao researchers to gain Phd’s
  • A joint Masters in Public Health Program between University of Health Sciences and Hanoi School of Public Health
  • Upgrade of IT facilities and introduction of public health e-learning resource centre
  • A research grant scheme to support the production of high quality research with Laos
  • Development of a long-term strategic plan for National Institute of Public Health
  • A wide range of workshops and trainings in areas ranging from ethics, transdisciplinary research practice, and production of policy briefs.

In addition to this major project, MCNV also conducts research in a wide range of areas including the impact of its agricultural interventions on nutrition and how these can be scaled-up, the use of IT in development, the control and prevention of malaria, the effectiveness of self-help groups in empowering people living with HIV and examining barriers to policy implementation in areas as diverse as the provision of mental health services and access to mother and child healthcare. Research is often conducted in partnerships with Dutch Universities such as VU University. The research is action-based and reflective and is designed to ensure that all people are involved in the process, for complex issues such as malnutrition, multiple stakeholders and engaged in the research and transdisciplinary approaches are used. MCNV’s works in research helps us to understand better the world around us and ensures we can support people within development processes to make the world a better place.

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Sexual and reproductive health and rights in Dien Bien province

Background

Youth in Vietnam, especially ethnic minority youth in mountainous areas, increasingly face health and social problems as a result of lacking the knowledge and skills of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Vietnam has the highest abortion rate in the world, 83.3 abortions/1,000 women. In 2012, Vietnam had the highest incidence of new HIV infections in mainland South East Asia, and more than one-third of people living with HIV are under the age of 30. The HIV epidemic is growing most rapidly where education is poor, particularly in ethnic minority areas. Many of these problems can be attributed to a lack of comprehensive SRHR/HIV education for young people, who are not provided with the knowledge and skills they need to confidently and effectively protect themselves and others from unwanted pregnancy and infection. Only half of adolescents surveyed were able to correctly identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. Young people increasingly engage in pre-marital sex and early marriage and childbirth are common. Poverty and remoteness limit access to information about SRHR. The little SRHR/HIV education available does not incorporate life-skills approaches. The effectiveness of health education programs are compromised by not being linked to quality youth-friendly SRHR/HIV services.

MCNV’s responses

To improve SRH in Vietnam, MCNV has strategies to support ethnic minority adolescents in improving accessibility of SRH education and services. We are now implementing a pilot project in Dien Bien called: “Open Door: improving access to sexual and reproductive health services for ethnic minority youths in Dien Bien high schools”. This three year project is implemented in two target schools, providing high quality life-skills-based SRHR/HIV education for ethnic minority adolescents, enabling them to make responsible choices and decisions regarding SRH and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to engage in safer sexual behaviors. This education is focused on ethnic minority youth in boarding schools and delivered through school-based youth clubs.

Technical guidance is provided by skilled SRHR health workers, teachers and women living with HIV. These clubs also aim to engage young people within the wider community outside the boarding schools, through a variety of innovative communication activities, such as drama, music and sports events. They also utilize social media channels to engage and communicate with young people. By doing this, the knowledge and skills of teachers are strengthened for better communication with young people about the sensitive topics of SRHR.

Future plan

In the future, MCNV expects to expand the SRH project to other schools in Dien Bien provinces and other provinces in Vietnam. After finishing the pilot project, the technical guidance for teachers would be published and introduced to education networks, from the national level through to district level. The work will also be distributed regionally, in particular through the new Adolescent Health Platform launched in Laos in November 2016.

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Network of village health workers

Background

In the health system of Vietnam, village health workers (VHWs) are grassroot based that are closely connected with villagers and are often called the “extended arm of the health sector”.

VHWs are not employees of the government; they are local community volunteers who receive special training for their community health work. The network of VHW is an important component for providing health care at the village level. The VHWs link the commune health centres with the villagers. They live in the villages where they work and provide simple health care and counselling to people, most of whom they know. The services given by VHWs are very important not only for the villagers but also for the government health system, especially to reach the poor and those living in remote areas with limited access to quality medical care.

MCNV’s responses

For many years MCNV has been helping to develop capacity and improve the quality of work of the VHWs in the three provinces of Cao Bang, Phu Yen and Quang Tri. In these provinces, the VHWs have established their own organizations called the Village Health Workers’ Association (VHWA) which function as local NGOs. Currently, these VHWAs are forming a network of approximately 3,000 members. The establishment of the VHWAs came in response to the expressed needs of VHWs in the provinces to foster learning and sharing for professional capacity improvement. In addition, they make it easier to voice the concerns of VHWs and villagers at higher health levels.

One of the most important tasks of VHWs is to give health educational communication at the grassroots level, as pointed out in Circular 07/2013/TT-BYT of the Vietnam’s Ministry of Health. To improve the quality of this kind of work, MCNV has helped the VHWAs learn and successfully apply many creative methods for behavior change communication (BCC). Some methods often used for BCC activities in the community include drama, shadow drama, folk composing and singing, participatory video, photo-voice and puppet shows. Although different in terms of techniques, these two-way methods of communication improve the interactions between VHWs and villagers and are applicable to almost any community health problem. The VHWAs now have good experience and skills in these methods, contributing to making people change their knowledge, attitudes and practices for better health in a more effective way. In the period of 2011 – 2015 the three VHWAs have used these methods to provide 807 communication events for different target groups and the communities, attracting the attention of over 26,500 people.

Achievements

The VHWAs are highly appreciated by local authorities and other organisations. For the past years the three VHWAs have cooperated with different organisations in the health sector, such as food safety departments, centres for HIV/AIDS prevention and district health centres, in community BCC actions. In Quang Tri, for example, the VHWA has trained groups of people living with HIV so that they can organize social events to communicate with villagers about HIV topics. The VHWAs also have good experience in working with ethnic minority groups in the border areas. One of the VHWA’s remarkable interventions is about using creative methods of BCC to communicate with groups of ethnic minority teenagers in some communes along the Vietnam – Lao PDR border, aiming at tackle the problems of unsafe sex practices and unexpected pregnancy.

The VHWAs also often train and collaborate with community based organisations, especially disabled people’s organisations, in using creative methods as a tool for expressions and life-skills development. In Quang Tri, the VHWA has been invited by other INGOs, including World Vision International and Handicap International, to provide trainings on creative methods of BCC for their partner organisations. In 2013, the VHWA joined in a consultancy mission together with MCNV to provide similar trainings to the UNFPA’s partners in Ben Tre and Hai Duong provinces. Earlier, the VHWA used to give such trainings for health workers and volunteers in Noong district, Lao PDR. In short, the VHWAs are now capable of providing technical support in creative BCC for health development projects/actions.

VHWs facilitated puppet making as a life-skills development activity for disabled youths

The working model of the VHWAs in Cao Bang, Phu Yen and Quang Tri has been reported to and appreciated by the Ministry of Health. These three VHWAs could play an important role in upscaling the model to other provinces in Vietnam in future.

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