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Innovative Solutions to Care: Telemedicine

Grantee:

National Hospital of Pediatrics, Viet Nam

Partners:

Technology for Health and Education Company, Ltd.

Description:

Baseline Survey on Telemedicine in Neonatal Care in Vietnam

Grant Amount:

$52,075

Over the last two decades, Vietnam has made significant progress towards the United Nations MDG #4 of reducing child mortality. However, further reductions in child mortality depend on substantial improvements in neonatal survival rates. Worldwide and in Vietnam, the under-five mortality rate has been decreasing but neonatal deaths represent an increasing proportion of the global under-five deaths. In Vietnam, more than half of all under-five deaths occur in the neonatal period (the first 30 days of life), and this proportion is growing, from 45% in 1990, to 52% in 2010, and now it is estimated at over 60%.

Advancing newborn care at regional hospitals is a key priority for improving newborn survival and health. There are too few doctors and nurses who are appropriately trained in newborn care and specifically the care of sick or low-birth-weight newborns. The lack of staff, shortage of nurses and equipment, and limited knowledge are major determining factors in poor health indicators. Health workers in the rural areas still lack the skills and experience to take prompt life-saving action and their knowledge of resuscitation is limited. An innovative solution is strongly needed to transform the training methods, increase the knowledge diffusion rate, and provide better access to equipment at the lowest cost.

In response, Vietnam National Children’s Hospital (VNCH) (aka, National Hospital of Pediatrics) plans to apply information and communications technology (ICT) to the way neonatal care is currently carried out in Vietnam. To start, VNCH would perform a baseline study to evaluate the Vietnam health system structure’s readiness for telemedicine implementation. This would include availability, acceptability and affordability of existing ICT infrastructure, availability of cost-effective technology solutions, ICT literacy among health professionals, M&E framework, national policy framework and cultural and behavioral perception towards telemedicine in Vietnam. The results of this study will provide the foundation for VNCH to further roll out a pilot project using ICT to support current routine clinical processes, consultation and develop a telemedicine and e-Learning package for health professionals.

If successful, this project will transform the approach to neonatal care in Viet Nam and enhance overall neonatal care capacity and increase the population’s access to care. This model has potential for replication across the entire health system, to many remote areas, to help significantly improve the current situation of neonatal care in Viet Nam.