DONG XOAI, December 8, 2022 – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) marked the end of a project that has made significant improvements in early childhood disability detection and support in three southern provinces. The accomplishments of the six-year effort, under USAID’s Disabilities Integration of Services and Therapies Network for Capacity and Treatment (DISTINCT) project, were highlighted at a ceremony in Dong Xoai attended by representatives of Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and National Committee for Persons with Disabilities, national agencies and ministries, project implementing partners VietHealth and the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam, and other key partners and stakeholders.
“On the heels of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, USAID congratulates all of DISTINCT’s partners for our collective success improving the quality of life for children with disabilities. Children are the future, and the U.S. is a committed partner of Vietnam in brightening their lives,” said Aler Grubbs, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director.
For children under 6 years old, early disability detection and support—including medical care, rehabilitation and special education—reduces the severity of their disabilities in the long run and also overall severe disability prevalence in the population. However, prior to the 2015 start of USAID’s project, Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai provinces did not have a system in place to provide such services, leaving caregivers to seek what care and support they could at provincial hospitals.
USAID has helped the three provinces to begin providing these crucial early childhood health services, including in schools and health centers, making them more accessible. The project also supported the creation of 18 therapy and resource rooms in the community. USAID directly supported nearly 5,000 children identified for follow-up through the newly-established provincial screening system by providing them with rehabilitation services such as physical and speech therapies; school- and home-based special education; and assistive devices.
The project also expanded Vietnam’s rehabilitation workforce by helping create Vietnam’s first Bachelor’s and Master’s of Rehabilitation degree programs, with a specialization in speech and language therapy, from which the first students graduated this year. USAID also trained more than 3,000 early childhood educators and caregivers in special education, and more than 2,000 health care workers and caregivers on physical and speech therapy.
For photos of USAID’s DISTINCT project in action, please visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAijDU(link is external).
For more information about USAID’s 30-plus years of support for persons with disabilities in Vietnam, please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/vietnam/