Viet Nam did a great job in vaccinating its population against COVID

Sunday, 22/01/2023 14:36
(CPV) - "Viet Nam did a great job in vaccinating its population against COVID. As of December 2022, almost everyone above 12 years old and over 90 per cent of those from 5-11 years old completed primary doses," said Ms. Lesley Miller, UNICEF Deputy Representative with the Communist Party Online Newspaper in January 2023.
 Photo: UNICEF

Reporter: What is your opinion about child care and protection work in Viet Nam in 2022/

Ms. Lesley Miller: I must say 2022 was another challenging year due to COVID-19 crisis. The country had to fight with the coronavirus outbreak in early 2022 and then struggle with the recovery from COVID for the rest of the year. Despite these challenges, Viet Nam managed to achieve some good results in term of child protection.

Viet Nam did a great job in vaccinating its population against COVID. As of December 2022, almost everyone above 12 years old and over 90 per cent of those from 5-11 years old completed primary doses.

In 2022, the child protection regulatory framework in Viet Nam has been strengthened. Social work development, inter-agency cooperation on violence against children (VAC) and child justice are further supported with the development of various legal documents. An inter-sectoral protocol has also been created to provide the framework for provision of integrated care and support to victims of VAC.

In addition, mental health promotion, prevention and programming in school have been improved through training for core school health workers and teachers, along with a ground-breaking, comprehensive national study of school-related mental health risk factors by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Training. In addition, consultations, workshops and conferences with adolescents and young people were conducted to increase their participation in promoting good mental health.

In term of challenges, like all countries, Viet Nam is still grappling with the far-reaching socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which are particularly devastating for the most vulnerable – children with disabilities, children of ethnic minorities, children affected by migration, climate change or conflict.

The pandemic has affected every aspect of children’s lives: physical and mental health, nutrition, learning, protection from violence, and access to water and sanitation. Progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals has slowed down on many fronts, notably routine immunization coverage for children under one year of age, which has dropped from over 80 per cent to 67 per cent as of October 2022. Likewise, progress in reducing violence against children has stalled, with over 72% of children aged 1-14 experiencing violent discipline at home. This is a pivotal moment. The need to get childhood back on track has never been more evident.

Viet Nam is not alone in struggling with these issues, but what sets Viet Nam apart is its impressive commitment, capacity and resources to tackle these challenges as a matter of urgent priority. Concrete solutions should be found to address poor nutrition, the lost learning from closed schools, the missed routine vaccinations and health checks, and the silent suffering from increased stress, loneliness and all too often, domestic violence.

Reporter: What are the key highlights of UNICEF’s support in 2022?

Ms. Lesley Miller: In 2022, UNICEF contributed to strengthening the health system’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other related infectious diseases. UNICEF procured more than 85 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, associated injection devices, and medical equipment. A media campaign was also executed to increase uptake of vaccines, provision of vaccines and outreach sessions in hard-to-reach areas, enhancing not only the government’s COVID-19, but also routine immunization programmes.

Second, on nutrition, UNICEF provided intensive technical and advocacy support to the government, including for the National Plan of Action, 2022-2025. In 63 provinces, UNICEF contributed to building capacity for planning and implementation of nutrition and advocated for sustainable funding mechanisms to scale up evidence-based, high-impact nutrition interventions.

Third, together with partners, UNICEF is in the process of introducing innovative water and sanitation solutions focused on climate-resilient technology such as net zero toilets.

Fourth, in collaboration with MOLISA, UNICEF equipped approximately 3,500 social welfare officers, teachers, health workers, mass organization cadres, and NGO staff with foundational knowledge and skills on child protection. Two child protection courses have been developed for university social work programmes. Additionally, more than 8,500 legal professionals and practitioners were trained on working with child victims and witnesses of crimes, and children in conflict with the law. Thousands of children are thus ensured to receive UNICEF-supported case management, health care, psychosocial support, and legal aid services.

UNICEF collaborated with MOET to support adolescent mental health, starting with a ground-breaking national study of school-related mental health risk factors and integrating mental health prevention and programming in schools. 150 core school health workers and teachers were provided with trainings on skills to support students’ well-being. UNICEF interventions also supported the government to ensure more inclusive learning opportunities for children with disabilities, children of ethnic minorities and LGBTI children. For example, UNICEF partnered with the Global Digital Library to produce 160 quality digital books in eight underserved ethnic languages and sign language.

Finally, UNICEF successfully harnessed innovative approaches and the power of digital media in its public advocacy campaigns such as the Blue Heart, Safe Journey, Back On Track and World Children’s Day (WCD).


Reporter: What are UNICEF’s priorities to support Viet Nam for 2023?

Ms. Lesley Miller: UNICEF supports the acceleration of the realization of child rights to ensure that no child is left behind. With equity at our core, UNICEF advances the inclusion of the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations, especially ethnic minorities.

In 2023, UNICEF will continue to partner with the Government of Viet Nam and other stakeholders in addressing children’s physical and mental health, nutrition, access to clean water and sanitation, education, protection, and social assistance. We are fully committed to provide technical assistance for strengthening laws, policies and plans, build capacity of partners, demonstrate innovative solutions – with a focus on digital transformation, promote awareness and social norm change and mobilize supporters in order to advance children’s rights.

With climate-related impacts and disasters on the rise, we will also strengthen child-sensitive, climate-resilient social services and capacity for effective disaster-risk reduction and humanitarian responses.

Partnerships are key to achieving these aims. In addition to cooperation with Government, mass organizations, NGOs, key influencers and development partners, we will leverage the potential of the private sector to advance children’s rights through public-private and shared-value partnerships that promote family-friendly business policies and the protection of young workers.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Khac Kien