HealthBridge and partners completed the project: Strengthening health systems and improving nutrition in Vietnam. The project aimed to improve health outcomes of mothers and children under-two in two districts of Son La Province Vietnam. The project sought to build capacity to deliver quality health services and improve care-seeking, health and nutrition practices in the local communities.
Son La province in northwestern Vietnam is geographically isolated, rural and home to many ethnic minority groups. In Vietnam, ethnic minorities often experience very low socioeconomic status, poorer health outcomes, lower standards of living and fewer educational opportunities. Communities in Son La province were the target of this intervention to address the significant challenges faced by women, newborns and adolescents to survive and thrive.
After the project was completed, a dissemination workshop was held in Hanoi to celebrate the many achievements of the project. Attendees and presenters shared their experiences with implementing the project as well as plans for ensuring the sustainability of the project results.
The key project successes highlighted in the conference include:
- The capacity of the local health systems was improved to design, deliver and monitor health services which are gender responsive and inclusive, by training local women as Ethnic Minority Midwives and building capacity in local district hospitals.
- The knowledge of community members was improved regarding sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health. Male engagement through education and counselling sessions served to improve their knowledge and ability to support women, newborn and child health.
- An adolescent reproductive health (ARH) education model was developed using a participatory needs assessment to inform the curriculum and delivery methods. Over 15,000 adolescents were reached in educational sessions aiming to improve attitudes, knowledge and behaviours regarding sexual and reproductive health.
- The home gardening component of the project involved providing seeds and training the local communities in home gardening practices in order to improve dietary diversity and child nutrition.
This October, HealthBridge Vietnam hosted a workshop to disseminate the results of the Strengthening Health Systems and Improving Nutrition in Vietnam project. The project was implemented by HealthBridge Vietnam and Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) in collaboration with Son La Centre for Disease Control (CDC). The project was funded by Global Affairs Canada, Unifor Social Justice Fund, Peter Gilgan Foundation, Peterborough K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation, Tenaquip Foundation and Gay Lea Foundation. The project aimed to improve health outcomes of mothers and children under-two in two districts of Son La province, Vietnam. The project used a two-pronged approach, seeking to build local capacity to deliver quality health services, and improve careseeking, health and nutrition practices among local people.
The workshop, held in Hanoi, had over 60 attendees from provincial, national and international levels including Frist Secretary, Ms. Sandra Le Courtois and Development Officer, Le Thi Mai Huong from the Embassy of Canada to Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Tien Dung, Director of the Son La CDC, Mr. Truong Tuyet Mai, Vice-Director of the National Institution of Nutrition, Mr. Nguyen Thi Hong Hue, Vice Director of the Department for Ethnic Minorities, Tran Hung Minh, Executive Director of CCIHP, and Ms. Nguyen Thi An, Director of HealthBridge Vietnam.
The workshop provided an opportunity for all partners to celebrate the achievements of the project, including the successes and best practices from the home gardening component and adolescent reproductive health (ARH) education model. For example, the ARH intervention used a combination of peer learning and teacher-led approaches and involved a participatory needs assessment to inform the development of curriculum content and delivery methods.
It involved collaboration of stakeholders from the education and health sectors. The homegardening component involved training local people in gardening practices and the provision of seeds which led to increases in consumption of healthy, locally grown foods.
In addition, attendees and presenters shared experiences from project implementation and plans for the sustainability of the project’s interventions. For instance, the Department of Education delivered a presentation on the importance of sustaining ARH education activities in schools and the Son La CDC presented a plan for continuing maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition activities in communities. The continuation of ARH and nutrition activities by government partners signals local ownership of the intervention and is a key achievement for sustainability of the project’s activities. Additionally, information about the workshop was published in several Vietnamese media outlets including: the Youth e-Newspaper, the Health and Life Newspaper, Consumer Life Newspaper, and the Information and Development Newspaper.
Attendees took part in a feedback sharing session where Director Mr. Dung from the Son La CDC, congratulated all project partners and collaborators. He expressed that he was especially impressed with the model to build up and maintain the work of ethnic minority midwives (EMM) and capacity building activities for staff of newborn care units at district hospitals.
Participants also had access to knowledge translation materials from the project including infographics, project briefs and videos which described in detail project activities, outcomes and recommendations:
HealthBridge Vietnam is committed to strengthening local health systems to be responsive to the needs in the community and delivering quality, inclusive care.