Improving maternal and child health for ethnic minority women in Vietnam at scale using digital health
Despite progress made by Vietnam on improving access to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services, vast inequalities exist between ethnic minority populations and the majority Kinh population. The emergence and virulent nature of COVID-19 has further exacerbated gender inequalities and health outcomes for pregnant women, new mothers, and newborns. Constituting about 15% of the population, ethnic minority groups suffer higher maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates and lower life expectancy, and their children experience disproportionately high rates of under-nutrition and stunting. Ethnic minority populations live predominantly in remote mountainous regions, making access to timely, tailored, and quality health services difficult.
This project will adapt and develop a strategy to scale up a successful digital health intervention previously funded by IDRC to improve maternal and child health outcomes among ethnic minority populations. The project will be designed incrementally to ensure that the feasibility, acceptability, and sustainability of the approach is optimized, and that the voices and needs of women and commune health workers are integrated into the design and implementation. A strong focus is placed on shifting adverse gender norms and enhancing the agency of ethnic minority women to access quality health services, which includes addressing the specific contextual realities experienced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The project will explore relevant and ethical use of artificial intelligence to enhance positive changes in behaviours, gender norms, and health outcomes.
Expected outcomes of the project include improved awareness, knowledge and health outcomes of women and newborns, stronger bonds between ethnic minority women and commune health workers, engagement of men and other family members, improved practices for government to address ethnic minority women’s maternal and child health needs, and enhanced research capacities, particularly for emerging women researchers. Expected outputs include open-access peer-reviewed articles, the scaled-up digital solution, reusable and translated sexual, reproductive, and maternal health text messages available for others to use, policy briefs, and popular media (such as blogs, social media, and news media) pieces about the project.