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Improving primary healthcare in remote Vietnam

ChildFund is training a new generation of nurses and healthcare workers to combat high levels of newborn deaths in remote Vietnam. Newborn fatalities in Hoa Binh province make up almost half of all child deaths.

Tu, who heads a commune health centre in Hoa Binh, says poor infrastructure and a lack of community awareness resulted in newborns not being treated in time to cure diseases.

“We once met a mother who closed her room windows to prevent the wind from coming in while her newborn daughter was suffering from jaundice,” Tu says.

“She did not know the proper treatment. When she was sent to the hospital for a check-up, the little girl was diagnosed with an incurable brain condition.”

Stories like these are far too common in rural Vietnam, which is why healthcare workers like Tu are eager to improve healthcare facilities and community awareness about child health.

In May 2017, Tu attended ChildFund’s workshop for Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI), which promotes mother and child healthcare practices at home and in the community.

During the workshop, healthcare staff and experts from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, the provincial Department of Mother and Child Health, hospitals and district and commune health centres discussed the implementation of IMCI in Hoa Binh.

ChildFund is helping teach local health workers in Vietnam how to diagnose, treat and categorise illnesses

After the workshop, Tu and other 11 communal and district health staff learned how to diagnose, treat and categorise illnesses. “I feel more confident that I can recognise symptoms and recommend a treatment regimen,” Tu says.

Local health workers like Tu will play a key role in reducing the number of newborn deaths, according to Huyen, who was a trainer at the sessions.

“Learning about IMCI is very important for health staff at the grassroots level to enhance their professional knowledge and skills to help manage child illness,” she says.

“It can help reduce time and expenses for treatment, especially the negative effects for children due to late delivery or improper treatment.”

In December 2016, ChildFund supported Tu’s commune health centre by building a new ten-room facility and providing essential medical equipment such as oxygen generators.

Tu and her colleagues also organised training sessions about IMCI to spread their knowledge and skills to improve the performance of the health centre.

“By improving the child healthcare services at the centre, I hope that the centre will be a reliable place for parents to take their children to when needed,” Tu says.

“It can help children develop well in a supportive community with quality healthcare services.”

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