Vietnam Country Program

Reproductive, maternal, and child health

Smiling mother holding infant

Healthy women and children mean healthy communities. Photo: Nguyen Ba Quang.

Healthy mothers and children are the foundation of a healthy society. Each year, millions of women and children die from preventable causes. PATH’s roots in Vietnam lie in reproductive health, and we have a long history of working with the Ministry of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Department and General Office of Population and Family Planning on ensuring access to family planning, supporting comprehensive abortion services, improving detection and treatment of cervical cancer, enhancing safe motherhood, and tackling diarrheal disease among children. By improving access to essential products and services and knowledge of best practices, we are giving women and children, and thus whole communities, their best chance at life.

Saving infant lives with human milk

Despite global gains in child health, 4.6 million babies still die in their first year of life—nearly 3 million in the first 28 days. Known approaches could prevent a staggering 71 percent of these deaths, and of all these approaches, human milk has the greatest potential impact on child survival. PATH’s Mother-Baby Friendly Initiative Plus model (MBFI+) promotes a multi-pronged approach to ensuring all babies receive human milk, including promoting breastfeeding; facilitating Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), which provides skin-to-skin contact alongside exclusive breastfeeding; and human milk banks (HMBs).

While all newborns stand to benefit from human milk, not all have access to their own mother’s milk at birth. The most vulnerable of these—including those born very pre-term, with a very low birth weight, or orphaned—are the very ones that are at the greatest risk of not receiving the lifesaving benefits of breast milk. For these newborns, HMBs can provide life-saving nutrition.

In Vietnam, PATH is working with FHI 360’s Alive & Thrive platform to develop Vietnam’s first human milk bank, in partnership with the Maternal and Child Health Department at the Ministry of Health, Da Nang Department of Health, and the Da Nang Women and Children Hospital in central Vietnam. The HMB screens donor mothers, collects donated human milk, and screens and pasteurizes the milk before storing and distributing to infants in need.

Learn more about the HMB in Danang from Dr. Hoang Tran, the leading clinician at the facility: