USAID Brings Rehabilitation Services to Persons with Disabilities in Vietnam

Speeches Shim

Sunday, January 27, 2019
Khanh and his grandmother at the rehabilitation unit.

Nguyen Nam Khanh is a two-year old boy who lives in Binh Phuoc province with his grandmother. When Khanh was eleven months old, his family noticed that his growth was stunted and he wasn’t moving around like other kids his age. So, his parents took him to the Children’s Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City for a medical check-up. At the hospital, the doctor diagnosed Khanh with Cerebral Palsy and said that he needed long-term rehabilitation treatment.

At the time, Khanh lived with his parents in Ca Mau province, which is more than 300 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, Ca Mau province didn’t have any rehabilitation services for children. This meant that regular treatment for Khanh would not only be expensive, but also very time consuming.

“His parents have to work very hard to make both ends meet. So it was too difficult for them to take him to regular treatment far away,” said Khanh’s grandmother. “Hence, I asked them to leave Khanh with me because I live in Binh Phuoc province, where rehabilitation services for children are available in provincial hospitals.”

Khanh began to live with his grandmother and she took him to Binh Phuoc Traditional Medicine Hospital every day to receive rehabilitation treatment at the physical therapy and rehabilitation department. This opportunity to receive treatment close by was made possible by USAID’s support.

Prior to 2015, Binh Phuoc province did not have rehabilitation services in any of the district health centers. However, over the last three years, with support from USAID’s Disability Rights, Enforcement, Coordination and Therapies (DIRECT) project, all district health centers and the provincial hospital now have an operational rehabilitation department so that children like Khanh can receive long-term rehabilitation treatment.

“Khanh has made lots of progress. He used to be lying still, but now I am so happy that he can even walk!” the grandmother reported.

DIRECT is a five-year, $5.9 million project, implemented by Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH). It delivers direct rehabilitation service to improve functional capacity and social participation of persons with disabilities in Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh provinces. To date, the project has provided rehabilitation therapy services and assistive devices to 3,700 persons with disabilities, including 144 children. The project has also trained 90 doctors and therapists, who then have been licensed to practice rehabilitation. The project’s goal is to provide direct assistance to 4,000 persons with disabilities and training to 5,400 service providers and caregivers by 2020.