Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam


Start date: 1 November, 2018 End date: 31 October, 2022 Project type: Research collaboration projects in growth and transition countries (Window 2) Project code: 17-M09-KU Countries: Vietnam Thematic areas: Health, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy (TBUMP), Vietnam Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Denmark Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Tine Mette Gammeltoft Total grant: 4,999,539 DKK

Project summary

Global health is in transition: across the globe, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose urgent challenges to individuals, families and governments, hitting the world’s poor particularly hard. Due to their extensive human and economic costs, NCDs are considered to be one of the major development challenges of the 21st century, and NCDs hold a key position on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This project argues that in order to develop more effective and locally grounded responses to the gobal NCD epidemic, the resources and potentials of the informal health care sector (defined as the lay, nonprofessional part of the health care system) must be investigated.

The project aims to advance NCD research by providing new insights on the informal support that makes it possible (or not) for people with NCDs to manage their condition well, including making optimal use of professional health care services. As a case for addressing NCDs, the project focuses on type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Vietnam.

The project will be conducted in Thai Binh province as an academic partnership between Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the Universities of Copenhagen and Southern Denmark. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the Danish-Vietnamese Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) project: Strengthening the Frontline Grassroots Health Worker: Prevention and Management of NCDs at the Primary Health Care Level, and with Novo Nordisk as private sector partner. Aiming for synergy with the SSC project, the proposed project aims to break new ground in diabetes care by developing innovative models for active involvement of informal support persons in day-to-day disease management, while also enhancing Vietnamese and Danish research capacities in the NCD field and offering new knowledge on the connections between informal support and everyday NCD management.


Midterm report

Despite the global Covid-19 crisis, the VALID project has made important progress in the past year. On WP1 and WP2, write-up of scientific articles for publication in Vietnam and internationally has continued and the project currently has several articles published and in press. Research results have also been presented at international conferences and used in teaching in Denmark and Vietnam. In Thai Binh, a student contest has been held, producing posters and videos for popular dissemination and for use as part of the project's pilot intervention program.

Based on the project's research results, a comprehensive set of patient education materials for people with type 2 diabetes has been developed, in consultation with the VALID Advisory Board and the SSC project. The education materials were published in early 2021 and currently serve as a key component of the project's pilot intervention program in Thai Binh. The intervention was launched on March 22, 2021, with the participation of patient representatives, local health workers and health authorities, the Danish Embassy in Hanoi, and VALID researchers, and is currently ongoing, including 16 active diabetes clubs in Vu Hoi and Viet Thuan communes of Vu Thu district. The clubs are moderated by village health workers and selected patient representatives and receive technical support through diabetes classes focusing on key diabetes management issues. The pilot intervention is scheduled to continue until the end of 2021.

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