Ministry of Health – Vietnam

Within the Ministry of Health, MCNV has close cooperation with the Department of Treatment for the work on disability,

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Health Office – Lao

The main role of the Health office is to oversee the health care of all the communities in the district Nong.

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MCNV Magazine 2016-02

Link to MCNV Magazine 2016 number 2 (magazine in Dutch).

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MCNV and a.s.r. win Partnership Award 2016

On Thursday afternoon, May 12th, in the Hague, the Best New Partnership Award 2016 is awarded to the team of MCNV and a.s.r., for the best social project in a developing country.

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Embracing Practices of Inclusion

A new publication by MCNV, Global Initiative on Psychiatry, and World Granny is available:

Download Embracing Practices of Inclusion

Stories of how people in Georgia, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Vietnam made inclusive development happen in their societies.

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Microcredit and income insurance

Microfinance – A sustainable engine for development


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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Development of occupational therapy in Vietnam


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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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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Biogas in the memory of a donor

Tom Fluitsma is an MCNV donor and has been an active volunteer from 1999 onwards, as an editor of MCNV Magazine and as a tour leader of donor travels. He has often traveled in Vietnam, with and without donors. This year he writes columns about special memories of the times he was there.

Mr. Tom Fluitsma, MCNV’s donor


November 1999. My first visit to Vietnam. Of course, we also visit the Mekong Delta for a few days. Our travel guide takes us to tourist sights. Sometimes he adds a small surprise to our program. For example, we visit a small farming village in the delta. We walk into the yard of a family and are warmly welcomed in their wooden house. There are a few large pigs in a pen next to the house. We exchange some courtesies and the guide translates: ‘You are welcome in our house. Take some of the fruit on the table’, ‘Thank you so much, kind of you to receive us’. In the meantime, I can’t keep my eyes off a giant plastic bag hanging under the roof of the house.

Pigs. In the Netherlands we like pork chops or bacon. We keep a lot of pigs for that, about 12.5 million. The manure of all these pigs is useful in agriculture, but it also produces a lot of greenhouse gases. We can hardly use that with global warming going on. No surprise, therefore, that this topic gets attention in the draft climate agreement. One of the many documents associated with this agreement contains the following proposal: ‘Processing and valorization of all fresh pig manure in closed regional clusters into green energy, substitutes for fossil fertilizer and valuable fertilizers’.

Biogas. In Vietnam there are 4 million pig farmers. There are differences between Vietnam and the Netherlands, but one thing is the same: Vietnamese pigs also produce manure and that manure also produces a lot of greenhouse gases. In November 2018, an interesting article was published in our NRC newspaper about a study into the extent to which countries succeed in offering their population a good standard of living, without exceeding ecological limits. Vietnam does relatively well in that study. Nice detail: almost 10% of pig farmers have a biogas installation. The article reminds me of my visit to Vietnam in 1999.

Back to the Mekong Delta, November 1999. I’m still looking at that giant plastic bag hanging under the roof. Our guide notices. That was exactly his intention, he didn’t take us to this family for nothing. He no longer leaves me in suspense: “This farmer has a few pigs. He collects the manure in the sealed container that you see there. He leads the biogases that are released upwards into the big bag in that thick plastic hose. At the back of the bag a black tube goes to the gas burner in the kitchen. This is how this family cooks, on free gas’. A special place of interest, off the beaten tourist paths. That was in 1999. Now, twenty years later, there are 350.000 pig farmers in Vietnam with an installation like that. As far as I know, Vietnam does not have a climate agreement, but the pig farmers there are well on their way to ‘processing and upgrading all fresh pig manure in closed region clusters into green energy’.


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“We now think differently about disabled people”

Ngoc Lan, staff member of MCNV for 20 years

“We now think differently about disabled people”

As soon as we meet each other in the lobby of the hotel in Dong Ha, Nguyen Ngoc Lan spreads her arms and walks towards me with a smile. A cordial and inviting gesture that, according to all of MCNV colleagues, is characteristic of Ngoc Lan. She is a doctor, worked as a project manager at MCNV in Quang Tri for almost 20 years and left the organization at the end of 2018. While enjoying a cool glass of fruit juice I ask her to look back on the many projects in which she participated. Does she see improvements in the lives of the people she has supported?

Ms. Ngoc Lan, staff member of MCNV for 20 years

Compared to the past I certainly see improvements in the lives of the disabled,” says Ngoc Lan. “Soon after I started at MCNV in 1999, I went to see a poor family with four disabled children. Try to imagine that, four seriously ill children in one family, who received no help or support whatsoever. Imagine the struggle of the parents to improve the situation. After the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a guideline on the inclusion of disabled people, MCNV, together with partners, devised a comprehensive approach to tackle the problems of disabled people. Good results have emerged from this.

” Having a disability, getting married was once unthinkable”

People with disabilities were dicriminated in the past, but when they stood up and started working, they got respect from the people around them. For the first time their lives moved upwards instead of spiraling downwards. People with disabilities who are getting married, for example, this was previously unthinkable in Vietnam. Most disabled people can now develop better physically because they can use guidance and physiotherapy at a young age. They have more self-confidence and can participate better, they learn that in the organization for the disabled. But that did not happen overnight. It takes a lot of time, we have been busy improving the living conditions of the disabled for 20 years. And we could only achieve that together with our very valuable partners and donors. The motto of the disability organization is: we learn, adapt and change. We learn, adapt and change, that also applies to MCNV.

“I am proud of what MCNV has done and I believe that much more can still be achieved, together with partners and donors.”

Already ten years later much more support was available for people with physical disabilities. But there was nothing at all for people with epilepsy or schizophrenia, for example. They were given some form of medication and nothing else. The medical staff was not trained to help these people in their daily activities or to improve their lives. Thanks to subsidies from the TEA (Transition in the East Alliance) program, from 2011 onwards, MCNV could implement a number of Mental Health projects. The changes we saw there were not so many in quantity, but essential in the quality of the lives of these people. Their family members were taught more about the illness of their loved ones and how to deal with their problems. We also trained the medical staff to better tailor the medication to suit the patient and the disease. There has been lot of progress, at relatively little cost, and MCNV can be proud of that.”

Support for school project

Ngoc Lan: “Another important project is waiting for support from MCNV. Two years ago a study showed that high school students suffer from depression, behavioral disorders and stress. More than 20% of 12- to 20-year old students have trouble in their lives. The rise of social media in Vietnam plays a role in that, because young people experience pressure to always deliver and be popular. Teachers can see these problems, but generally do not know how to support their students and, in serious cases, guide them towards professional caregivers. MCNV made a training plan for this, but we’re now waiting to implement it because unfortunately there is no money available. I hope that in the near future there will be money made available for this project still.”

By Saskia Stevens

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