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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria & VinaCapital Foundation to implement “Survive to Thrive” Project in Lai Chau to reduce infant mortality

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Republic of Bulgaria and VinaCapital Foundation (VCF) signed a Grant Agreement to implement the “Survive to Thrive” project to provide essential neonatal equipment and training for 2 hospitals in Lai Chau province. The project contributes to VCF’s commitment to reduce infant mortality and build capacity in Vietnam’s healthcare system.

The signing ceremony took place on 20 December 2021 at the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Hanoi. The Grant Agreement was signed by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of The Republic of Bulgaria to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam H.E. Mrs. Marinela Petkova on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, and by Mr. Rad Kivette, CEO, on behalf of VinaCapital Foundation.

This Grant Agreement to VCF’s Survive to Thrive program totals BGN 62,572 (USD 36,000), which is funded by Bulgarian Official Development Aid. The project will provide 16 pieces of neonatal equipment for 2 remote hospitals in Lai Chau in a 3-month implementation period. The medical equipment includes 2 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat acute respiratory failure, 2 phototherapy machines for neonatal jaundice, 2 SPO2 oximeters, 2 infant warmers, 2 intubation kits, 4 injection pumps, and 4 infusion pumps. These devices will help complete the neonatal units in the 2 hospitals in predominantly ethnic districts.

Lai Chau, a rural province in the northwest region of Vietnam, has more than 20 ethnic minority groups. The infant mortality rate is 39.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, which remains the highest rate across the country. Lack of essential neonatal medical equipment in the hospitals is one of the leading causes of infant mortality, and also increases the rate of referrals to distant higher-level hospitals. Combined with geographical challenges, poverty and lack of access to quality care, mortality rates for infants and mothers will remain high. This equipment and training gift will ensure a reduction in mortality and healthier children.

Through the provision of essential neonatal equipment accompanied by the necessary training on the equipment, doctors and nurses in rural and remote areas like Lai Chau will be able to provide babies with basic neonatal care and emergency treatment from their very first breath. According to the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, the utilization of neonatal medical equipment has a major clinical impact, including a 75% reduction in 24-hour mortality from respiratory distress syndrome achieved after the introduction of the CPAP machine.

Ambassador Marinela Petkova stated that development assistance is an important component of the Bulgarian foreign policy and in line with its commitments to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in multiple priority areas. “Vietnam has been our natural partner within the framework of the Bulgarian Official Development Aid Program, stepping on decades-long bilateral cooperation and relations of friendship, trust, mutual support, and assistance”, shared Ambassador Petkova. “With the majority of our projects being implemented in Hanoi, we worked to expand the scope of the program towards the rural areas of Vietnam in support of the country’s policies for the empowerment of vulnerable people, especially women and children, and for improving access to quality healthcare, education and business opportunities. The VinaCapital Foundation project “Survive to Thrive” was selected for funding among 37 very competitive proposals taking into consideration its tangible and measurable positive impact on the communities in Lai Chau Province by directly contributing to the reduction of infant mortality, which brings overarching improvement to the quality of life of the families in the region. The procurement of lifesaving equipment and the training of healthcare professionals on its efficient operation makes me confident in the project’s long-term success. As a mother myself, I will be looking forward to visiting Lai Chau to meet in person the mothers, children, doctors, and nurses in the local hospitals and get acquainted with their needs and inspiring success stories.”

“It is VinaCapital Foundation’s honor to partner with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Republic of Bulgaria and Bulgarian Official Development Aid to provide quality healthcare improvements for vulnerable, disadvantaged, and underserved communities,” states Rad Kivette, CEO of VinaCapital Foundation. “The Survive to Thrive program is designed to ensure that doctors and nurses are competent and equipped with the right tools to assist newborns and mothers at birth. With the invaluable support of the Republic of Bulgaria – for which we are very grateful, this project will protect children and families from preventable deaths and provide additional benefits for healthier generations to come.”

Since its inception, VCF’s Survive Thrive program has donated 293 pieces of neonatal care equipment to neonatal intensive care units of 53 hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Kon Tum, Cao Bang, Son La, Bac Kan, Ha Giang, Yen Bai, Khanh Hoa, Quang Nam, and Quang Ngai. In over 15 years, 122,646 babies were treated thanks to VCF’s donations of equipment. In Lai Chau province, previously, VCF has organized 3 Advanced Pediatric Life Support training courses for 96 doctors and nurses; donated 9 crash carts to 7 district hospitals and 1 provincial hospital in 2017; provided free heart examination for 773 children, and diagnosed 19 cases with CHD that require medical intervention; VCF sponsors 01 ethnic minority girl from Lai Chau with a 7-year scholarship for high school and university.

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