what we do

Support women living with and affected by HIV

Background

HIV/AIDS epidemic has become the most emerging public health problems in Vietnam since 1990s. By the end of year 2015 there was a total of 227,000 people living with HIV while more than 75,000 people have died from AIDS. In estimation about 14,000 new cases of HIV are founded every year.

During 12 years working in HIV/AIDS area, MCNV had a considerable contribution to Vietnam HIV/AIDS situation in establishing and providing support to a community – based organization of women who are living with HIV, called Sunflowers, in seven Northern provinces in Vietnam. The program has contributed to improving access to health care for women living with HIV because of the strengthened referral system.

MCNV’s responses and achievements

Beginning in 2004, a group of women living with HIV was established by MCNV’s support. The simple aims were to ensure that, if pregnant, women can access to information and medicine that would help to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. This initial pilot was successful in achieving its goals, and with the generous support of the Royal Netherland Embassy, it was scaled-up to a further three provinces between 2006 – 2009. In its third phase these achievements were consolidated and the model adapted to suit the needs of people living in remote mountainous regions. Then the program covers seven provinces and the Sunflowers group supports over 1,500 women living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and their families.

The Sunflowers groups help to ensure that they can overcome the barriers and obstacles they face to live active and fulfilled lives. This support comes in many forms, it includes: counselling and care at home and in hospitals, support to secure stable livelihoods, assistance with children’s education, and engagement with the community to reduce stigma and discrimination. Over more than 12 years the program has demonstrated that when women living with HIV work together their confidence and self-esteem increases enabling them to become powerful advocates for change and developments.

From 2012, after handing over, the network of Sunflowers had worked more independence with its own steering board of national level, and leaders of each provincial group. The Sunflowers are maintaining supports in improving health care access, income generating, and social by monthly meeting, revolving fund, and many supportive events. From this period, overcoming difficulties, Sunflower maintains its groups and networks with many valuable activities. More than 1,100 women living with HIV frequent attend the monthly meeting. Living with poor health status, many leaders of Sunflowers cannot be able to have a longer contribute to their group. Sunflower have refreshed themselves by changing most of group leaders and Network leaders and its structure.

In addition, MCNV provides health care insurance to Sunflower members, therefore, 100% of women living with HIV are protected by health insurance. The program also organizes vivid trainings to cultivate skills and knowledge to Sunflowers and their family members. Specifically, parenting skills were provided to grandparents who are raising orphan children. The training, such as hepatitis C prevention, ARV therapy, pig raising skills have been delivered to members of the Sunflower groups.

Future plan

Currently and in a couple of year MCNV is providing technical and a little financial supports, which is enabling the Sunflowers to be strengthened, and capable to work more independently as a Community Based Organization of women living with HIV, to bring support to women living with HIV continuously.

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Mental Health

Mental Health (MH) disorders significantly contribute to the worldwide burden of diseases. The health services and policies in Vietnam pay only limited attention to MH.

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Development of occupational therapy in Vietnam

Background

Rehabilitation has been developed in Vietnam for more than 40 years; it is still a big gap of Occupational Therapy (OT) development. The main rehabilitation practice in Vietnam is Physical Therapy (PT), yet there are currently no qualified occupational therapists in Vietnam. OT services are provided by physiotherapists with minimal clinical training in OT, or by occupational therapists from other countries who come for short periods. It is only available in a few large hospitals. Specific OT services were unavailable for mental rehabilitation, elder care, home-based care, school-based services for children with special needs, etc. The faculty (PT and Rehabilitation doctors) may not be well-equipped to teach OT in depth, due to lack of experience, equipment, and resources, limited information from books, especially those written in English. In addition to the lack of qualified OT doctors, those qualified with Masters to teach OT are not available in Vietnam. The participants of OT training survey were of the unanimous opinion that OT education needs to be commenced in Vietnam.

Being aware of the fact that OT is essential to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services, the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s orientation of rehabilitation development up to year 2020 stated that OT is one of specialized fields in rehabilitation. It is obligatory to establish Occupational Therapy Departments in Rehabilitation Hospitals as well as Provincial General Hospitals.

MCNV’s responses

In October 2015, MCNV received a fund from USAID to run a 5 – year project of OT training development in Vietnam. The project’s goal is to create the foundation and necessary conditions in order to develop the training system of professional OT in Vietnam, including the provision of OT trainers, competency-based training curriculum and OT-related policies. Specific objective of this project as follows:

  • To develop a group of capable OT trainers in HMTU and UMP HCMC.
  • To develop a 4-year competency-based OT curriculum at a regional level.
  • To pilot an OT Bachelor training course in HMTU and UMP HCMC
  • To set up two OT units for practicing during training procedure.

To implement this project in the context of having no OT experts and trainers, MCNV already approached School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University (SOAHS – MU), India to ask for technical support during the project implementation. Two universities in Vietnam were involved in this project including Hai Duong Medical Technical University (HMTU) and University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City (UMP HCMC). The project has also received strong supports from Administration of Medical Service and Administration of Science Technology and Training, MoH.

Achievements so far

After almost one year conducting the project, the following results have been achieved:

  • Sending a group of 4 or more trainers from HMTU and UMP HCMC to one-month orientation course on OT in SOAHS – MU.
  • Sending a group of 5 Physical Therapists to an English course and Bachelor of OT course (BOT) in SOAHS – MU.
  • Sending a group of 6 key persons from MoH, HMTU, UMP HCMC and MCNV to the study tour on OT in SOAHS – MU.
  • Develop the BOT program outlines for full-time and part-time training courses
  • Develop the Syllabus of part-time BOT program which will be piloting at HMTU and UMP HCMC in year 2017.

In the coming years, MCNV will continue to run the program as planned to reach all objectives.

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Microcredit and income insurance

Microfinance – A sustainable engine for development

Background

Impacts of microfinance to the poor

Impacts of microfinance to the poor

At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a commitment “to eradicate poverty everywhere, in all its forms and dimensions by 2030”. Inspired from this goal, all MCNV programs in Vietnam are committed to contribute to poverty alleviation efforts by integrating microfinance tools to support marginalized groups who are normally the poorest in their community. Over the past 10 years, MCNV has disbursed micro finance services including loans for production and water retention, savings, and health insurance, to more than 7000 households with the total value of more than 650,000Euro in programs in Vietnam.

Microfinance has proved to be one of the most powerful engines in the global effort to end the crushing poverty that deprives hundreds of millions of the world’s people of sustenance and hope. Microfinance gives poor people the opportunity to establish an existence and to create a future with prospects.

MCNV loan allow her to build water containers to save rain water to prepare for draught and salinity

MCNV loan allow her to build water containers to save rain water to prepare for draught and salinity

Micro loans, saving and other financial services in combination with financial literacy trainings could greatly help the poor start-up their micro-businesses to generate income . This would provide the clients and their families with greater qua
ntities and more nutritious foods, education for their children and to the opportunity to improve their houses. Consequently, microfinance has an impact on the future generations.

Microfinance has a positive impact far beyond the individual household. Jobs are created, knowledge is shared, civic participation increases, and women are recognized as valuable members of their families and communities. Microfinance could also improve the community solidarity and connection between people.

An equally important part of microfinance is the revolving mechanism in using funds from donors so if microfinance is managed well, it could allow a certain amount of funding to serve more and more poor families. These funds would be more beneficial longer term so the impacts will be multiplied in comparison with other kind of development grants.

An extreme poor old lady received a friendship house built from MCNV microfinance projects in Ben Tre 2015

An extreme poor old lady received a friendship house built from MCNV microfinance projects in Ben Tre 2015

Micro-entrepreneurship is the key for the poor’s self-empowerment. It turns the poor from a passive and weak role in the development process to active agents of change. The personal talents and community support are fully mobilized for business development and this process is the best capacity building for those who are poor. Microfinance directly impacts and benefits women’s empowerment since microfinance particularly focus on women and gradually consolidates the role and capacity of women in family and in the community.

Future plan

In recent decades, the microfinance crises have showed that microfinance could harm the development if being used in an extreme way. So MCNV is making its effort to balance the social and financial performance of microfinance projects by using Social Performance Management (SPM) system. Applying the SPM permits microfinance assist the poor to escape poverty while ensuring the whole microfinance system runs as healthy as a double bottom-line financial institute.

MCNV also wants to share and expand the best practice in microfinance and social performance management to other organizations and communities. We look forward to like-minded partners and donors to promote the real microfinance with focus on social performance and sustainability.

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