Viet Nam

Photo by Idriss Bigou-Gilles

In 1994, the goal of Pathfinder’s first project in Viet Nam was simple. According to then Project Director Katherine L. Bourne, “We wanted to train a critical mass of doctors and midwives whose skills were not just upgraded, but excellent.”

Photo by Idriss Bigou-Gilles

Today, high standards and quality care remain at the heart of Pathfinder’s work in Viet Nam. As is our desire to reach the most underserved.

Photo by Idriss Bigou-Gilles

Pathfinder works to ensure at-risk groups have access to quality health services, be they youth, people living with HIV, or ethnic minority populations—who face a much higher maternal and newborn mortality rates than the national average.

Photo by Idriss Bigou-Gilles

We do this by strengthening the country’s heath care system, in close partnership with the government, private sector, and civil society. And we build providers skills and knowledge in a growing range of technical areas.

Photo by Idriss Bigou-Gilles

Our commitment was the same in 1994 as it is today; we are dedicated to building capacity and delivering innovative solutions, as evident by our work with the Ministry of Health to transmit health education messages through mobile phones.

Pathfinder International's work in Viet Nam demonstrates our commitment to providing quality sexual and reproductive education and health care to at-risk populations through local partnerships and innovative applications of technologies.

Why Pathfinder Works in Viet Nam

Despite significant socioeconomic development in Viet Nam in recent years, there remains a great need for sexual and reproductive health services by many people, particularly in those living in more isolated areas. Ethnic minority populations, many of whom live in mountainous areas, often face poorer quality and less accessible health care than the general population, resulting in much higher maternal and newborn mortality rates than the national average.

Viet Nam's high abortion rate, estimated to be among the highest in the world, demonstrates continuing unmet need for comprehensive family planning and reproductive health care. In addition, Viet Nam's HIV prevalence rate, while low and concentrated, continues to rise due to a lack of skilled providers and appropriately-equipped health facilities, as well as the problem of stigma against people with HIV and AIDS. In 1994, Pathfinder International became one of the first American NGOs to work in Viet Nam following the normalization of US-Viet Nam relations. Today, Pathfinder works with the government, private sector, and civil society to strengthen Viet Nam's health care system, improve the knowledge and skills of providers, and empower people and communities through improved sexual and reproductive health. Pathfinder is committed to building capacity and delivering innovative solutions, as evidenced by our work with the Ministry of Health to transmit health education messages through mobile phones-a first for Viet Nam.

In Vietnam, just over three-fourths of births occur with the assistance of a trained attendant. About four in ten births do not take place in a health facility, a cause of concern for the health of both mothers and their babies (PRB).

Evidence for Decision-Making

A key aspect of Pathfinder's approach to systems' strengthening is collecting evidence that enables public, private, and community partners to make informed health-related. In Viet Nam, examples of the kinds of evidence we collect to range from "the number of faculty members and deans who attend a training workshop on medical anthropology, indigenous culture, and ethnic minority health topics" and "the number of field teaching sites upgraded according to assessment results" to the "number of policies approved as a result of partners' advocacy work with ministry-level or provincial authorities." Some illustrative data from Pathfinder's current projects in Viet Nam include:

  • 106 nursing teachers received technical updates on primary health care and ethnic minority issues
  • 407 medical and nursing students received an HIV and AIDS block pre-service curricula
  • 5,868 ethnic minority medical and nursing students were taught at skills labs, to supplement their skills with anatomic models before they begin practicing with real patients in hospitals.
  • 12,637 school-based and other community youth participated in forums on sexual and reproductive health facilitated by trained facilitators

Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems

In Viet Nam, Pathfinder's overall approach to capacity-building rests on promoting a partnership between communities and the health systems designed to serve them. This partnership encompasses joint assessments and goal setting, as well as joint planning, implementation, and evaluation. For instance, through the Reproductive Health Projects, Pathfinder built capacity of local implementing partners through clinical training, forming training teams, and forming supervision teams in over 200 clinics in 17 provinces, which have served more than 2.5 million clients since the program began. That program also created the first youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services in Viet Nam, which are now in about 30 clinics across the country. Pathfinder has also partnered with the Viet Nam Ministry of Health to design and roll out new National Guidelines on Sexual and Reproductive Health for People Living with HIV - and made sure that the voices of people living with HIV were heard to determine content of the Guidelines.

Education is the foundation on which health is built in most parts of the world and Viet Nam is no exception. Pathfinder works to partner government clinics and local schools to ensure better sexual and reproductive health education for young people. Pathfinder also has contributed to the ability of two universities and five nurse training colleges to attract more ethnic minority students, provide them with a better primary healthcare education, and encourage them to provide care in their home communities.

Pathfinder's capacity-building efforts provincial HIV and AIDS authorities to pilot innovative new management techniques exemplifies the type of public-private partnerships that is central to our work. Through this partnership, Pathfinder provided support to provincial authorities to encourage and coordinate HIV and AIDS care and treatment in private clinics and a voucher system in which peer educators could refer people with sexually-transmitted infections to private clinics that were supervised and supported by government staff. These efforts culminated in support to the national AIDS authority in drafting a Stewardship Plan for Public-Private Partnerships, which aims to make the national HIV and AIDS program more sustainable in the coming years. To ensure the success of our efforts, Pathfinder has also partnered with the National Assembly and the Ministry of Health to ensure that appropriate policies are in place to support the advances that have been made in linking communities to health systems.

DONATE NOW TO SUPPORT OUR WORK IN PLACES LIKE Viet Nam

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Our Projects

eHealth in Viet Nam

Systems Strengthening

Pathfinder is enhancing the health management information system in Viet Nam in order to strengthen the health sector's planning and management and to reduce inequities among poor and vulnerable populations.

Related Publications

January 2011

Improved Quality of Reproductive Health Care in Viet Nam: An Overview of the Reproductive Health Projects

This paper summarizes the results, strategies, and challenges of the Reproductive Health Projects (RHPs), initiative to improve reproductive health services available in two leading hospitals and the Viet Nam government's reproductive health care network.

January 2011

Improved Quality of Reproductive Health Care in Viet Nam: An Overview of the Reproductive Health Projects

This paper summarizes the results, strategies, and challenges of the Reproductive Health Projects (RHPs) initiative to improve reproductive health services available in two leading hospitals and the Viet Nam government's reproductive health care network.

January 2010

Comprehensive Safe Abortion Programming: The Pathfinder International Approach

This paper presents Pathfinder's comprehensive approach to safe abortion programming including provider training, client friendly counseling, addressing the needs of vulnerable populations including youth, community mobilization, and advocacy.

Related News

Youth and Yearning

With support from Johnson & Johnson, Pathfinder launched a health learning program for in- and out-of-school youth in Can Tho city and Thai Nguyen province to change attitudes and improve knowledge about HIV through life skills-based education.

“I remembered our life-skills forums where we had an opportunity to deal with similar scenarios. I was confident to share with him my feelings, my nervousness and my expectation that I preferred to delay,” one young woman said.  “He agreed with me and showed respect to me. I was very happy.”

Pathfinder Organizes Workshop on Policies for Ethnic Minority Students in Medical Education in Viet Nam

Pathfinder Organizes Workshop on Preferential Policies for Ethnic Minority Students in Medical Education in Viet Nam
On July 17th, 2012 Pathfinder collaborated with the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs to organize a workshop to review existing policies for ethnic minority students in medical education.
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