Stephanie Wells, a British speech therapist, arrived at Bach Mai in November 2018 with the goal of prepping the staff to run the speech therapy unit independently by April. “Speech therapy is relatively new to Vietnam, so getting the unit ready in six months is a big task,” says Wells. “However, the staff are very enthusiastic about learning and delivering quality patient care.” Formerly a speech therapist at the neurological rehabilitation unit of a London hospital, Stephanie mentors the two doctors, two nurses, and physical therapist who make up the unit.
“A big part of my role is providing lectures on specific topics and working one on one with each therapist, demonstrating techniques and advising them as they practice,” says Wells. “We’re also working on better coordination with the patients’ other doctors and physical and occupational therapists.”
The work is possible thanks to support from a multi-year USAID grant. HI is also able to provide continuing education and mentoring to doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and other staff in neurorehabilitation. In addition, the organization is working to improve the training of physical and occupational therapists in universities, develop rehabilitation guidelines at the national level, and provide assistive devices and house modifications to people with disabilities. The project aims to support 530 rehabilitation professionals and 14,000 children and adults with brain lesions by 2023.
Anh Quynh, 30, sits in front of a mirror in the speech therapy unit at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, watching herself slowly mouth out a word—mẹ bé—mother. It’s a simple act, but a huge step considering where she was just a few weeks ago. Her close-cropped hair and a deep scar on her skull reveal the nature of her condition, a traumatic brain injury.
In May 2018, Anh was involved in a serious road accident while seven months pregnant. She was taken to a small district hospital where she lay comatose for weeks. Despite serious injuries, Anh maintained her pregnancy, and gave birth to her baby. Relatives took her baby home, but Anh remained bed ridden and completely immobile in the hospital for all of 2018.
In early January 2019, Anh was transferred to the Bach Mai National Hospital where HI has been working since 2015, thanks to support from USAID, to improve medical care and rehabilitation for people with neurological disorders and brain injuries. There, physical and occupational therapists, as well as doctors in the hospital’s recently established speech therapy unit, began helping Anh to regain functionality and independence.
“Anh has only been here for 10 days, but she is already able to sit up for an hour and half at a time and feed herself,” says Dr. Dung Le, who is currently training in the speech therapy unit at Bach Mai. “Her improvements are a great example of what is possible when patients receive good rehabilitation care.”
“Right now, we’re working with Anh on articulating words with her mouth,” says Stephanie Wells, a British HI speech therapist who has been training the speech therapy staff at Bach Mai. “She understands what people say to her, but she doesn’t have a voice yet.”
After practicing feeding herself and swallowing food, Anh moved to another unit to work on her motor skills with occupational therapists. Anh’s relatives bring her baby to visit about once a month, and hospital staff are encouraging them to bring the baby more frequently so Anh can develop a stronger bond with her child.
Every year, some 287,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries, where Handicap International is working to improve the health of women, mothers and children.Read more
Thuy has a spinal cord injury and is paralyzed from the chest down.Read more
Humanity & Inclusion works in partnership with the Vietnamese authorities to consolidate national methods, strategies and services in the field of health and rehabilitation, social and economic inclusion for people with disabilities, and human rights. Part of the aim in Vietnam is to ensure the sustainability of the models implemented by Humanity & Inclusion to support the most vulnerable people. Humanity & Inclusion employs 10 staff members in Vietnam including 2 expatriates.
Since 1989, Humanity & Inclusion has acted as a technical adviser in implementing projects that focus on the prevention and rehabilitation of disabilities due to war, accidents, congenital defects, and disabling diseases. The Vietnamese population is still suffering from the after-effects of war, due to the disabilities caused by injuries and unexploded instruments of war. The organization has also recently noted victims of congenital deformities caused by dioxin and other toxic products. The country faces a series of modern challenges, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic, road accidents, and industrial accidents. An estimated 15% of the Vietnamese population lives with disability.
Advancing Medical Care and Rehabilitation Education (ADMIRE)
The Advancing Medical Care and Rehabilitation Education (ADMIRE) Project launched in 2015, thanks to generous support from USAID. The project develops standardized medical and functional rehabilitation care protocols and strengthens the capacity of reference centers within the Ministry of Health for persons with physical impairments including those due to brain lesions. ADMIRE will improve the lives of 8,000 Vietnamese adults and children with disabilities, train 480 health and rehabilitation staff, enroll more students in physical and occupational therapist diploma programs, and reinforce the country’s rehabilitation centers.
HUMANITY & INCLUSION'S PREVIOUS WORK IN VIETNAM HAS INCLUDED:
Ban Advocates Project
Since 2007, Humanity & Inclusion's Ban Advocates project brought together a group of survivors of cluster munitions. This group testified on the consequences of the use of these weapons on civilians in order to urge policymakers to prohibit indiscriminate weaponry and ensure that affected communities received appropriate care and assistance.
In 1989, the Vietnamese Ministry for Health asked Humanity & Inclusion to set up the first orthopedic workshop in Hanoï. Humanity & Inclusion later opened two more orthopedic fitting workshops in 1993 and 1994, one in Dalat and one in the province of Dong Ha. Over the following years, at the request of its Vietnamese partners, Humanity & Inclusion provided technical advice on disability prevention and physical rehabilitation projects. The organization was therefore able to ensure the sustainability of the work carried out in the fields of health, rehabilitation, socioeconomic inclusion, and human rights. This meant consolidating methods, strategies and services offered in conjunction with the Vietnamese authorities to allow them to implement them themselves.