The Vitamin Angels Programs team recently went to Vietnam for ten days to monitor Vietnam’s national vitamin A campaigns with our field partner, the Vietnamese National Institute of Nutrition (NIN). Read what Eva Haase, Vitamin Angels Program Coordinator, said about the trip:
As the Program Coordinator, I am responsible for key aspects of grantee relationship maintenance and for technical support and educational materials for field use. Understanding how to create effective, quality support materials means that I have the opportunity to engage with our more than 70 field partners to improve the quality of information used in health services, in particular giving vitamin A to children. So it goes without saying that a monitoring visit to Vietnam’s national vitamin A campaigns with our field partner, the Vietnamese National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), was a welcomed opportunity and a great way to celebrate my upcoming one-year anniversary with Vitamin Angels. Since 2008, Vitamin Angels has been working to provide vitamin A to the children and women of Vietnam’s 63 tinh (provinces), this year reaching 3.1 million children and 700,000 lactating mothers. Outside of NIN, Vitamin Angels is the only source of high-dose vitamin A for Vietnam’s program. Together, NIN and Vitamin Angels are able to reach infants and young children targeted by the national vitamin A campaigns held annually on the first and second days of June and December at Commune Health Centers throughout the country.
Vitamin A needs are based primarily on birth records and ongoing health services, and are reported from the smallest administrative units—the hamlets and communes—to the larger ones, the districts, provinces, and regions, and finally to NIN. This is an one example of the “bottom up” approach adopted to advance availability, access and use of micronutrients, especially vitamin A, among at-risk populations in need. At the same time, NIN along with the provinces and districts collaborate to create annual health service plans, training materials, and information and education communications. Families of infants and young children are alerted to the bi-annual vitamin A campaigns through public service announcements broadcasted on television, over the radio and on loudspeakers that, through at least one channel or another, reach every hamlet in Vietnam.
To increase household awareness of the campaigns, a network of 110,000 trained Volunteer Nutrition Coordinators, fluent in local languages and Vietnamese and who live and volunteer in the hamlets they serve, hand deliver written invitations to every household under their care. Imagine, firsthand touching the households of nearly 7 million children with a handwritten invitation to improve child health and to reduce child mortality by at least 24%! Families turn in their invitations when they arrive to receive vitamin A for their young children and the names are collected and verified against the commune’s master list. If a child does not appear for vitamin A supplementation, the Volunteers are deployed to deliver the health service to the child at home. This means that NIN can confidently report reaching the same children with vitamin A distribution-after-distribution, year-after-year. As a result of these national and household-level efforts, vitamin A supplementation rates for children were greater than 90% in the districts we visited. Deworming medicine, which has a mutually beneficial relationship when coupled with the vitamin A, was also given to all eligible children during the vitamin A campaign. Overall, we confirmed that the Vitamin Angels’ vitamin A is being managed skillfully to reach our intended beneficiaries, children 6-59 months, with essential micronutrients. But, I am inclined to simply chalk it up to being one more reason to love what I do.
Special thanks to The $10 Club for their generous donation to procure 100,000 IU vitamin A capsules for this project and to all of our donors who are making this projects and others around the world possible.
Learn more about our international vitamin A campaign Operation 20/20>>