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


Start date: 1 November, 2018 End date: 31 March, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier 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 I project has achieved its objectives, with more articles published than originally planned and a successful peer support intervention implemented in Thai Binh province. Research results have been presented at stakeholder workshops in Vietnam; at international conferences; and used in teaching in Denmark and Vietnam. Further, six short courses and four write-up workshops have been held, strengthening research capacities in Vietnam.
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 currently serve as a key component of the project's peer support intervention program in Thai Binh. The intervention was launched in March 2021 and is currently ongoing, including 16 active diabetes clubs in Vu Thu district. In 2022, the intervention was extended and online lectures were included in the program. Building on the success of the VALID I intervention program, efforts are currently made to generate funding for a scale-up of the intervention to a larger geographic area.

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