Working for a healthier Vietnam
A history of addressing varied and crucial needs in health
PATH’s work in Vietnam began in 1980 with a project to improve local condom manufacturing capacity. Other projects in reproductive health followed, and in 1997, we opened a permanent office in Hanoi, broadening our focus from contraceptive technologies to health issues including vaccines and immunizations; reproductive, maternal, and child health; health technologies; and emerging and epidemic diseases. For more than 30 years, we have collaborated with a diverse range of partners to help improve health in Vietnam.
Controlling emerging and epidemic diseases
Our growing portfolio focuses on efforts to develop sustainable responses to addressing communicable diseases such HIV and tuberculosis, as well as emerging non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension. We are also supporting the Vietnam government to improve disease surveillance.
PATH and our partners trained pharmacy staff and private clinicians to correctly identify tuberculosis symptoms and to refer clients appropriately. Through this public private mix model we detected more than 12,000 people with TB and helped refer them to facilities with free treatment. Recently we launched a new project, Breath for Life, applying this approach to reduce pediatric TB illness and death in Vietnam.
PATH is harnessing the power of the market to ensure a more sustainable response to the HIV epidemic in Vietnam. Through PATH’s Healthy Markets project, we are working with the private sector and community and nongovernmental groups to develop a new commercial market for HIV-related goods and services among the most at-risk populations.
One-quarter of adults in Vietnam have hypertension, but less than half of them are aware of it. PATH is partnering with health care providers and social enterprises to encourage people to get screened for hypertension and to ensure high-quality referral, treatment, and follow-up.
In an effort to improve disease surveillance and prevent worldwide epidemics, we are partnering with the CDC to provide technical assistance to help the Vietnamese government maximize its capacity to detect diseases and outbreaks, respond rapidly, and prevent future exposure.
Delivering vaccines and immunizations
Through the Improving Routine Immunization Services project, we helped thousands of health workers become better prepared to manage and deliver vaccines while strengthening the health system to better support immunization services. Our research on vaccine freezing has led to advocacy and training to raise awareness among health staff and improve vaccine management skills. We’ve helped improve uptake of existing vaccines, such as the hepatitis B vaccine. We’ve also helped prepare for new vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
In collaboration with the government and vaccine manufacturers within Vietnam as well as the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, we are supporting the enhancement of influenza vaccine production and clinical development capacity in Vietnam. This project complements efforts by the World Health Organization in Vietnam and other countries to increase local and regional influenza vaccines supplies. Ultimately, the goal is for Vietnam to be able to supply safe and effective influenza vaccines that can be affordable and accessible for the people of Vietnam and for the global population in a future pandemic.
Improving reproductive, maternal, and child health
We partner with the public and private sectors to improve the health of women and children and increase access to reproductive health services. PATH worked with the Vietnam Ministry of Health to identify groups who may benefit from public-sector distribution of family planning services. We also work with health care providers to ensure good-quality medical abortion services and to strengthen post-abortion family planning counseling and service delivery.
We’ve identified ways to prevent cervical cancer through screening and treatment and assisted the Ministry of Health in developing national guidelines for cervical cancer control. Our program has also helped the Ministry of Health develop and pilot national diarrheal disease control guidelines, giving needed attention to a dangerous childhood killer.
Because pharmacy staff are crucial to health care services in Vietnam, we train workers at private pharmacies to improve their ability to provide health information and referrals. We’re also working to better integrate pharmacies into the health system.
Most recently, we are partnering with the Vietnamese government and other international agencies to pilot the first human milk bank in Vietnam. More than just bringing access to life-saving breast milk for vulnerable infants, this pilot will lay the foundation for a chain of human milk banks across the nation.
Introducing health technologies
An important part of our work in Vietnam is introducing and increasing access to appropriate and affordable health technologies. Refrigeration, for example, is important to keep vaccines viable, and solar refrigeration is an attractive technology. We’re testing a promising new technology with the potential to last much longer than traditional batteries. We also worked with the private sector to see how commercial markets can help bring safe and appropriate household water treatment and storage products to low-income consumers.
Banner photo: Nguyen Ba Quang.