Dubai Cares yesterday announced a new humanitarian investment of Dh 7,346,200 (USD 2 million) in a health and education programme in Vietnam, benefitting 905,000 children across 2,600 schools.
The programme aims to reduce the incidence of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) amongst students in Vietnam over a three year period and gradually eliminate one of the leading causes of student absenteeism in the country.
The programme supports the vision of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to give children - regardless of their nationality, creed or religion- the opportunity to become positive contributors to society by eliminating the barriers to education that children in developing countries face on a daily basis.
His Highness's vision extends far and beyond the Middle East region, addressing the educational development agenda around the globe including countries such as Vietnam. NTDs such as Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH), more commonly known as intestinal worms, have long been known to limit physical and mental growth in children, affecting participation and productivity in schools. The World Health Organisation (WHO) - the United Nations public health arm -has called for greater efforts to control STH as a key priority as part of its larger neglected tropical disease (NTD) agenda.
In partnership with international development organisation Thrive Networks (formerly known as East Meets West Foundation), Dubai Cares will roll out the school-based deworming programme across four rural provinces in Vietnam, for improved health outcomes amongst students.
Commenting on the partnership and the programme in Vietnam, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: "With programmes in 35 countries, Dubai Cares relies on key partnerships with organisations such as Thrive Networks to effectively implement a variety of programmes across the globe.
The affliction of STHs have resulted in serious challenges to the physical and educational development of many children and their communities worldwide, including those in Vietnam. These, and other parasitic diseases contribute to a high-level of infant, child and maternal malnutrition, which in turn impact children's learning capabilities. Through this programme, we will be supporting an integrated and holistic initiative that sees all members of the community work together to ensure success against this devastating issue." Under the partnership, Dubai Cares will work with Thrive Networks on a programme that combines sanitation and hygiene into deworming activities with the ultimate goal of delaying reinfection and increasing sustainability. As part of the programme, over 905,000 preschool and school-age children from 2,634 kindergartens and primary schools will benefit from deworming treatments. Along with treating the children, the programme will also train teachers and community health workers to administer the medicine to their students at school, thereby ensuring a cost-effective and scalable approach.
In addition, the programme will see teachers, amongst 10,000 individuals including health workers and local Vietnam Women's Union members, receiving training to deliver education in their communities on improving personal hygiene, handling food properly and eliminating unsafe soil fertilisation practices. The knowledge and educational components of the programme will ultimately benefit the wider community as it helps keep re-infestation rates low.
Thrive Networks Vietnam Country Director Minh Chau Nguyen said, " We are excited to launch a first of its kind integrated approach to deworming that includes improving access to sanitation and raising awareness of hygienic practices. The project offers a significant opportunity for the WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools) and NTD communities to collaborate, learn from each other, and generate evidence that will motivate global communities to adopt an integrated approach to help eradicate STH."