On April 28 and 29, more than 700,000 primary school children across four provinces in northern Vietnam will line up in their classrooms to receive a deworming tablet. 8.5 million children in Vietnam are at risk of parasitic worm infections that can harm their health, development, and school participation. Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative supports the Government of Vietnam as it strengthens and improves school-based deworming to keep children healthy and in school. Between now and 2018, the program will distribute more than four million treatments to combat worms in the four provinces.
Who Are We Working With?
Our work in Vietnam is in partnership with East Meets West, a program of Oakland, USA-based Thrive Networks. East Meets West is leading a three-year integrated deworming and hygiene education program in the four target provinces, funded by Dubai Cares. While the Government of Vietnam currently conducts deworming campaigns in selected provinces throughout the country, our role is to bolster the planning and preparation that is required for large-scale deworming programs to maximize the number of children that are cost-effectively reached.
What Are We Doing?
For example, we helped form a Steering Committee that is made up of key decision-makers from the health and education sectors who oversee the program. We helped develop customized training and outreach materials and the all-important Adverse Event Protocol that clearly delineates what needs to happen if a child falls ill. We also trained local officials on our distribution ‘cascade” so that materials and training pass efficiently from provincial health and education officials down to the teachers and frontline health workers who administer the deworming tablets. We developed a robust strategy for monitoring and reporting to ensure that high-quality data is collected on key performance indicators such as whether teacher trainings are held, how many children are dewormed, and whether all schools have sufficient deworming tablets on hand. By working closely with key health and education officials in the Vietnamese government we are supporting a program that can be expanded well beyond the initial four provinces in years to come.
Training 7,500 people in 5 Days
To prepare for the upcoming deworming days, the training cascade began on April 11, when provincial health and education authorities gathered in Hanoi for a 2-day training session. Led by facilitators from Vietnam’s Health Environment Management Agency (VIHEMA) and National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology, and Entomology (NIMPE), these officials learned about the negative effects of worms; the cost-effective and safe solution of mass drug administration through schools; their individual roles in implementing school-based deworming, including budgeting and administrative guidelines; and procedures for safely administering the medication to children.
After two days, the provincial representatives returned home to train their district-level counterparts, who in turn traveled to communes and trained local health workers and teachers. Because the cascade works so well, over 7,500 participating personnel (about 3,000 health workers and 4,500 teachers) received the necessary tablets, reporting forms and community sensitization materials in only five days. They were fully prepared to spread the word to communities about why deworming is important, mobilize children on deworming day, safely administer tablets, respond in the unlikely case of any side effects, and correctly record and report on program coverage.
We’ve been impressed with the hard work and dedication of all involved and are excited to partake in Deworming Day in Vietnam this week.
Nhiệt liệt hưởng ứng chiến dịch tẩy giun cho học sinh tiểu học! (Rough translation: Let’s participate together in deworming! In Vietnamese this sounds very enthusiastic)