World Vision, Vietnam
Bac Binh Community Health Project
The link between poverty and poor health is obvious. There are many ways in which poverty can lead to ill health, including lack of access to housing, transportation, education, food and health services. Therefore World Vision seeks to tackle health issues and ensure the well being of the entire population of Area Development Programs. On the one hand by changing the way health care services are planned and delivered to answer to the needs of the communities, on the other hand by working with and through other sectors, such as economic development, social support and more equitable distribution of income. Virtually all World Vision development programs and projects apply a community-based approach, thus empowering the people for their own development and, so doing, encouraging sustainability. Bac Binh is one example of a sectoral intervention.
Bac Binh is one of the poorest districts in Binh Thuan Province of Vietnam. It consists of 17 communes with an estimated population of 110,000 people. 30 percent of the population are ethnic minority groups, mostly living in remote, mountainous areas. Most ethnic minorities do not have access to government assistance, education, health care, or social services.
Around 90 percent of the population of this region is involved in agriculture as their primary source of income. However, poor soil quality, deforestation, lack of technical knowledge, and inadequate equipment and services make it extremely difficult for community members to consistently produce high yields. This results in food shortages for many months of the year. Poor households consume a diet limited in proteins, fats and vitamins. The principal meal consists of rice, clear soup and fish sauce. Meat is rarely consumed. Lack of awareness and access to a balanced and varied diet contributes to the high rate of malnutrition in the area. The district is also heavily affected by malaria and lacks basic health services, resulting in high maternal and infant morbidity.
The Bac Binh Community Health project started in 1998 as an expansion of the Malaria Project implemented from 1995 to 1997. After a mid-term evaluation the project extended to October 2001 until June 2004 to strengthen existing activities by providing improved health care services for community members focusing on women, children, and ethnic minorities.
Achievements of the Bac Binh Community Health Project:
- Strengthened and expanded nutrition program focusing on proper feeding habits, breastfeeding, supplementary foods, sanitary storage practices, and sanitary cooking techniques. Pre and post training surveys indicate a 20 percent increase in general knowledge levels about nutritional feeding practices and breastfeeding;
- Changed attitudes and behaviours, thereby assisting in reducing the number of children suffering from malnutrition;
- Provision of workshops on reproductive health, child, and maternal health;
- Strengthened credit and savings scheme, supporting women to increase their incomes, visible in 686 loans totalling 695,000,000VND (approx. 55’000 CHF);
- Construction of latrines and wells improving hygiene and sanitation in project communes increasing access to safe drinking water and understanding the importance of good hygiene practices, visible in the 1,200 people who benefited from 81 wells and 80 latrines constructed as part of this project;
- Established network of village health volunteers receiving training and re-training on nutrition, control of diarrhoea diseases and acute respiratory Infections;
- Technical skills training on Integrated Management of Childhood Disease, First Aid and nutrition program management, capacity development to manage health issues prevalent in the area;
- Revolving drug fund established as an effective mechanism to meet the pressing demands for drugs by the local people;
- Health stations equipped with vital administrative support equipment such as desks and chairs, using the interest from the revolving drug fund;
- Community mobilization and capacity building expanded villagers’ understanding of the importance of taking care of their health; active participation drove the project’s success contributing to the projects sustainability;
- Community groups included women and ethnic minorities as beneficiaries from the project, without discrimination.
Mrs Le Thi Hong Phuong is a poor woman who lives in Binh Le Village, Phan Ri Thanh Commune. She became a member of the community credit program initiated by World Vision Vietnam’s Bac Binh Community Health Project. With a loan of VND 1,000,000 (approx. 80 CHF) she started a small business raising chickens. This has increased her capacity to earn an income and now she has additional money to take better care of her children. They now receive nutritious food every day, have an opportunity to go to school and a small fund from which to address health related needs as they arise. Mrs Phuong was trained on poultry raising as an income-generating activity. She equally attended workshops on childhood care which had a direct effect on improving the overall health of her children. Mrs Phuong is described as a shy woman, who does not like to talk in front of a crowd. However, the success of her new business brought a new found sense of confidence. She is now happy to share her personal experience with other women, and is more likely to insist that health improving initiatives within her household be a priority. She is now not only a wage earner, but an advocate for herself and other women.
Having access to clean water became a dream come true for Mr Nhat and his family with the support of World Vision Vietnam’s Bac Binh Community Health Project, a well was built. Not only does the well provide clean drinking water for Mr Nhat and his family but to other member’s of the community as well. The families no longer have to travel long distances to fetch water and can use the extra time they now have to work and gain an income. Moreover, this clean source of water supports health throughout the community as rates of diarrhoea disease amongst children drop. For Mr Nhat, the water from the well helped him set up a small pond for fish raising. This business venture provides nutritious food for his family, thereby contributing to improving the health status of his children, wife, and extended family. Thanks to the new well, these families have the opportunity to transform their lives.
Country/region: Vietnam, Binh Thuan Province, Bac Binh District
Duration: October 1998 - June 2004
Swiss Organisation: World Vision Switzerland supports various community programs in Vietnam. The Bac Binh Community Health Project has been funded by World Vision Australia.
Contact: Esther Bodenmann, firstname.lastname@example.org
Partners: World Vision Vietnam