Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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.

For children who live in remote areas like the Ngan Son District of Vietnam, teaching and learning facilities are often poor, and all too often there is no school within easy reach.

I’ve observed first hand the challenges children in remote areas face to reach school, so let’s discuss what we’ve seen in rural Vietnam, and how we can improve children’s access to education.


1. Children walk long and dangerous journeys to school


On my last visit to Vietnam, I visited a very remote area where children as young as five have to walk up to five kilometres every day to reach their closest school.

The idea of a young child having to walk so far alone is horrifying – there’s no infrastructure on the roads, and there’s a real danger of them having an accident on the way.

Right now, ChildFund is working in seven communities in the Ngan Son District, helping build schools for children who have difficulty accessing education.


2. Rural schools need better infrastructure


Schools in rural areas are often operating out of a single classroom, or in unsafe buildings. Others don’t have perimeter fences, which means animals and intruders can easily access the grounds, or children can walk out onto the road.

ChildFund is working with local communities to fund the development of child-friendly infrastructure in schools. This includes building safer classrooms, that are structurally sound, and located within child-safe boundaries.

We’re also making sure children have access to safe drinking water on school grounds, as well as functioning toilets and sinks to wash their hands.