Plan International Vietnam, in collaboration with the National Youth Centre and the Hanoi Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, has been implementing a three-year Young Health Programme (YHP) in Hanoi since January 2019.
Advocacy is a key pillar of the Young Health Programme as it aims to ensure that non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention among young people and broader adolescent health becomes a government priority globally. The YHP in Vietnam, with support from partners, has been platforming the energy, skills and experience of young people to make an effective case for putting NCD prevention on the national agenda.
Based on the findings of a review of the legal and policy environment on NCD prevention in Vietnam, the YHP has identified gaps and opportunities in existing laws and policies, which informed the YHP Vietnam Advocacy Strategy which focuses on three main objectives:
- NCD prevention among young people is included in the Decree for the Youth Law and the Youth Development Strategy 2021 – 2030. This work is done with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA).
- NCD prevention among young people is included in the new 5-year National Plan of Action (2021-2025) to implement the National Strategy for Prevention and Control of NCDs. This work is done with the Ministry of Health (MOH).
- NCD prevention among young people is included in the new 5-year School Health Scheme (2021-2025, Vision to 2030). This work is done with the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET).
By empowering young people to advocate on issues relevant to their health and wellbeing, and influence national-level policies, the YHP in Vietnam has seen several advocacy-related successes since its start in 2019.
One such success is the inclusion of NCD prevention among young people in the Youth Development Strategy 2021 – 2030, which was recently finalised in July 2021.
This is a significant achievement for the YHP in Vietnam as it is not often that NCD prevention among young people is prioritised in national-level policies. The credit for this is due to YHP Vietnam’s advocacy workshops in September 2020 and December 2020 in which YHP peer educators and young people shared their points of view and recommendations directly with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Following on from these workshops, the YHP in Vietnam submitted a position paper with recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
It was a great achievement for the YHP to have been part of the drafting process of the Youth Development Strategy 2021-2030, but an even greater accomplishment for YHP Vietnam’s advocacy efforts to have been successful and resulted in the inclusion of NCD prevention among young people in the approved Youth Development Strategy 2021-2030. The Youth Development Strategy 2021-2030 has taken the YHP Vietnam recommendations on board and says:
“III. Main task and solutions
3. Promote communication and dissemination of policies and laws
c. Promote communication about the necessary and need to improve the physical and spiritual life and health care for young people; in which focus on training to improve communication counselling skills for service providers on reproductive and sexual health care for young people. Strengthen communication on prevention of harmful effects of tobacco, harmful use of alcohol and other stimulants, prevention of non-communicable diseases, prevention of law violations and social evils among youth.”
The YHP in Vietnam is delighted to hear of this achievement as it is an excellent example of sustainable and strategic impact at the national level, created by young people through youth-led advocacy. Such policy change will contribute significantly towards healthier outcomes for young people in the future. While looking forward to future advocacy successes and achievements, the YHP Vietnam Programme Manager at Plan International Vietnam, Dr Tran Thi Linh Giang shared:
“It is so encouraging for the YHP team to witness the process of successfully advocating for the inclusion of NCD prevention in the Youth Development Strategy. It is true that our YHP Vietnam advocacy strategy is meaningful and has an impact. In 2019, we conducted a policy review exercise to carefully identify which policies are relevant to NCD prevention, and who and how we need to advocate for the inclusion of NCD prevention. NCD prevention among young people is the right theme to introduce to key ministerial policy makers at the right time when they are developing new strategies. We have developed partnerships with relevant partners and government focal persons to share our advocacy points and express our commitment to work with them. Through the inclusion of NCD prevention in the Youth Development Strategy, the YHP has marked a crucial impact in Vietnam’s policy environment at the national level.”
The Director of the National Youth Centre, Mr Nguyen Thanh Hao also shared:
“The Government disseminated the Vietnam Youth Development Strategy (2021-2030) which pays a lot of attention to the health and well-being of young people, including the prevention of non-communicable diseases among young people. This shows a great change in the point of view of policy makers relating to the prevention of diseases, especially NCDs. This is very important. Based on this strategy, all the relevant stakeholders and local authorities can develop activities that will improve the health of young people in Vietnam.”