HANOI, August 25, 2021—The World Bank and the Institute for Social Development Studies have signed an agreement for a US$2.75 million grant provided by the Japan Social Development Fund for the “Strengthening preparedness and response to COVID-19 at the grassroots level in Vietnam” Project.
HIV vulnerable groups in Vĩnh Phúc discuss the impact of COVID-19. (Note: at the time of this consultation meeting, the lockdown was removed and mask-wearing is not compulsory. However, ISDS required temperature check and hand washing for all people before the meeting).
As the name suggests, the project aims to strengthen preparedness and response capacities for pandemics and other health emergencies at the community level in three proposed provinces: Vinh Phuc, Khanh Hoa, and Long An. It is estimated that 270,000 people will benefit from the project’s interventions with at least 3,500 people from vulnerable groups.
“The grassroots health system plays a crucial role as the front-line defense against epidemics and pandemics,” said Rahul Kitchlu, the World Bank Acting Country Director for Vietnam. “The ongoing COVID-19 is exposing some gaps of such 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 capacities of commune health stations with the provision of equipment and skills. It will help health workers get better at early detection of suspected cases and conduct epidemiological investigation while minimizing cross-infection within the health facilities. It will also help ensure the continuity of essential health care services provision during the pandemic.
The three-year project until December 2024 will also raise awareness and promote 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 correct mask wearing, appropriate hand washing, and environmental hygiene.
An innovative element of this project is the pilot interventions to address the needs of the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic. They include elderly people in urban areas, ethnic minorities, informal workers, people living with HIV/AIDS, drug users, and female sex workers. It 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 implements the project, is a Vietnamese NGO with 20-year experience in research, advocacy, training, and intervention in public health, gender, and community development.
The Japan Social Development Fund, which is a partnership between the Government of Japan and the World Bank, provide 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.