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Japan, WB grant US$2.75m to strengthen pandemic preparedness in Vietnam

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HCMC – Japan and the World Bank have worked together to provide Vietnam a US$2.75 million grant to enhance preparedness and response to the Covid-19 pandemic at the grassroots level in the Southeast Asian country.

The world lender and the Vietnam-based Institute for Social Development Studies struck an agreement for a US$2.75 million grant provided by the Japan Social Development Fund for a project called “Strengthening preparedness and response to COVID-19 at the grassroots level in Vietnam”.

The project aims to improve preparedness and response capacities for pandemics and other health emergencies at the community level in Vinh Phuc, a province northwest of Hanoi; Khanh Hoa, a province in the country’s south-central coast; and Long An, a province neighboring HCMC in southern Vietnam.

As many as 270,000 people are expected to benefit from the project’s interventions with at least 3,500 people belonging to vulnerable groups.

“The grassroots health system plays a crucial role as the frontline defense against epidemics and pandemics,” said Rahul Kitchlu, World Bank Acting Country Director for Vietnam, in a statement.

He added, “The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is exposing some gaps of such a system and highlights the need for capacity upgrades as a country’s Covid response system needs to be strong at all levels.”

As such, the project will focus on strengthening the capacities of commune health stations with the provision of equipment and skills.

The project will help health workers get better at the early detection of suspected cases and conduct an epidemiological investigation while minimizing cross-infection within the health facilities.

It will also help ensure the continuity of essential healthcare services during the pandemic.

The three-year project until the end of 2024 will also raise awareness and promote a sustainable behavioral change in preparing and responding to health emergencies through risk communication.

Scientific and fact-based information about Covid-19 transmission modes, suspected signs and symptoms and prevention measures will be provided to health workers and community members alike.

Some expected behaviors include the wearing of masks and washing of hands appropriately as well as environmental hygiene.

An innovative element of this project is the pilot interventions to address the needs of the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic, including elderly people in urban areas, ethnic minorities, informal workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, drug users and female sex workers.

The project will leverage volunteer networks to reach about 3,500 people of these groups, offering them information about Covid-19 detection and prevention measures, psychological support and in-kind assistance such as food, medication and protective equipment.

The Institute for Social Development Studies, which is implementing the project, is a Vietnamese non-governmental organization with 20 years of experience in research, advocacy, training and intervention in public health, gender and community development.

The Japan Social Development Fund, a partnership between the Japanese government and the World Bank, provides grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits.

By Thanh Thom

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