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EARLY JOURNEY OF LIFE

Introduction

The “Early Journey of Life – EJOL” (TTS3) is an extended phase of the former project “Learning Clubs on the first 1000 days” (TTS2). The third phase EJOL (October 2020 – March 2022) will be implemented with the technical support from the Ministry of Health Vietnam, with financial support from the Grand Challenges Canada. Implementing partners are the Research and Training Center for Community Development (RTCCD) Vietnam, the Monash University Australia and the Ha Nam provincial Department of Health. The EJOL focuses on: (1) rolling out the innovative models to all 116 communes in Ha Nam province; (2) supporting the Ministry of Health Vietnam to develop the national guideline for health workers on examination and counseling on early childhood development; (3) adapting and delivering the innovation in Hanoi for the business pilot. The project aims to extend the intervention program, covering the first 2000 days of a child’s life.

Why is it called “early childhood development in the first 2000 days of life”? As we know, the golden 1000 days of a child is conception until a child is 2 years old. The 2000 days reach to children at their 5th birthday. The EJOL will provide a parenting education package to make sure that a child reaches their full potential via parents’ good practices in childcare, stimulation and early learning.

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Content of the model

The EJOL phase 3 continually focused on structured package for rural areas (including 5 modules, 20 sessions, based on video clips, interactive practice and family books). Besides, the model will be adjusted to fit with the need and life styles of urban parents, providing packaged courses to all families (course A1 – for family of pregnant women, course A2 – for family that has baby from 0-12 months, A3 – for family that has baby from 12 to 24 months and AF – package support from pregnancy until child of 24 months). The urban course will be provided in the template of small parenting clubs, which will be facilitated by doctors and a counselor.

Moreover, the EJOL program will provide first-aid classes for parents, preschool teachers, and enterprise staff Hanoi, in a commitment to Grand Challenges

Canada. This is an effort to create sustainable revenue sources of interventions, preparing for the project financial fade-out.

The project team will continue developing video clips on parenting education for children aged 2 to 5 years old.

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Feedbacks of participants

The program has received extraordinary interest of the community because of its benefit to the next generation.

The local government authority coordinates the three sectors involved in this program (kindergarten teachers, commune health station staff and Women’s Union staff) at commune level. “The program shared our vision, which is to improve the quality of human resource and poverty elimination with the involvement of multi-sectors” (Deputy Head of the Ha Nam Provincial Department of Health). The program also received support from the Vietnam Women’s Union. “The books are beautiful, color printing, nice writing and good content. There must be a lot of work and efforts from doctors and the project team. I wish that I had these books when I was pregnant with my son” (Provincial Women’s Union leader)

“This approach is consistent with our vision, fulfilling the gap in health care for women and children. This project meets the needs of our staff at the grassroots level. We desire to further develop policies for rural areas”. (Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, Head of Family and Social affairs Department, Vietnam Women’s Union). In terms of health sector, the program was shown to be “aligned with other national health programs such as nutrition, breastfeeding, reproductive health and maternal and child health programs” (Deputy Head of Ha Nam Provincial Department of Health).

The leaders of the Ha Nam Provincial Department of Health have indicated that they are so impressed with the program, the community interest it has generated and its potential to improve early childhood development, they are committed to roll the program out at local scale to all 116 communes in the province. “After receiving the scientific evidence of the program and the permission from Ministry of Health, we are happy to be the first province in Vietnam to scale up the program in the whole province. We have the budget for this scaling up phase.” (Dr. Van Tat Pham – Deputy Head of HaNam provincial Department of Health).

After 6 months of club implementation in the field, 90% of eligible women attended the 8 pregnancy sessions; 34% of their husbands and 21% of grandparents attended at least one session during the module 1 and module 2. In the module 3 and 4, the participant rate of the husbands increased to 40% and

that of the grandparents doubled to 47%. Women said that since their husband joining the clubs, their husbands did more house chores and were more gentle to their wives. Fathers directly bathed their babies in the first week of birth and learned mimic their baby’s gesture and sounds.

The unique values

· EJOL follows the World Health Organization recommendation of nurturing care: good health; adequate nutrition; responsive caregiving; security and safety; and early learning.

· EJOL provides intervention package based on vivid pictures (video clips and posters), step-based instruction at group meetings (practice on a doll and baby), and create group’s interaction to boost parental behavior changes and peer support via social network (Zalo)

· EJOL program encourages fathers to engage and spend quality time with his child and be kind, gentle and supportive to his wife; also invites grandparents to join the group meetings to learn about early childhood development.

· The EJOL has technical and policy support from the Ministry of Health (Department of Maternal and Child Health) and technical supports from specialists in local hospitals in Vietnam, Monash University and Melbourne University, Australia.

· The EJOL phase 3 is implemented with a new mindset of business, promoting the cost contribution from families and corporate social responsibility to cover for the cost of innovation management.

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Coverage and Visibility

At the present, the EJOL project is implemented in 42 communes in Ha Nam province. In Hanoi, the model has been broadcasted on a youtube (Link [1]) channel and Facebook group (Link [2]) from December 2019. There were 21 classes organized, around 900 parents, grandparents, and preschool teachers attended to classes (from January 1st, 2019 – April 30th, 2020)

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The program was introduced on two national channels which are Morning Coffee on VTV3 – similar to Good Morning America (broadcast on April 3rd, 2019 – National television VTV3) and the Obstetrics map on VOV2 (broadcast on February 21st, 2020 – Radio The Voice of Vietnam VOV2, Click here to listen [3])

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Invitation for Cooperation

The EJOL desires to work with:

· Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Province to scale up the EJOL model to other provinces in Vietnam.

· Development funders to develop intervention material to cover the ages of 2 – 5 years and pilot the innovation in industrial zones and poor urban settings.

· Donors to develop an online education system through a mobile app.

· Corporations that have the same target of clients from 0 – 5 years old in the Hanoi area.

Contact Information:

MSc. Tran Thu Ha

Deputy Director, RTCCD Organization.

Tel: (024) 3628 0350 or 091 2552 393

Email: ha.tran@rtccd.org.vn