Japan to fund $2.8 million project for Vietnamese vulnerable to Covid-19

By Viet Anh   April 26, 2021 | 01:30 am PT
Japan to fund $2.8 million project for Vietnamese vulnerable to Covid-19
Two girls sell lottery tickets on a street in southern Vietnam in 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Four at risk groups in 14 provinces and cities will receive support from a one-year project worth $2.8 million funded by Japanese government.

The project "Mitigating Covid-19 impacts on vulnerable populations, ensuring national progress to achieve SDGs in Vietnam" was launched Monday in Hanoi.

The project will be implemented from April 2021 to March 2022. The beneficiaries are people from Thai Nguyen, Dien Bien, Lao Cai provinces in the north, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Da Nang, Quang Tri, Quang Nam, Dak Lak in central Vietnam, and An Giang, Can Tho, Vinh Long and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

It will be co-implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Vietnam's Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Home Affairs.

Naomi Kitahara, representative of UNFPA, said at a conference to launch the project that although Vietnam's response to Covid-19 has been one of the most effective in the world, the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic are still a matter of great concern. Many people continue to be impacted by the multiple effects of the pandemic, which disproportionately affect the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, including women and girls, the elderly, and youth.

Covid-19 can stretch and overwhelm the health system, while pregnant women tend to postpone or cancel antenatal care visits and other pregnancy-related appointments due to fear of infection. This can prevent the identification of pregnancy risks and complications, which can lead to unnecessary maternal deaths. According to an estimation conducted by UNFPA in 2020, the maternal mortality ratio could rise by 44-65 percent as a negative impact of Covid-19 in Vietnam.

Kitahara noted a pre-existing prevalence of violence against women and girls has been exacerbated in the context of Covid-19. Recent reports have shown restrictions in movement, social isolation and similar containment measures, coupled with existing or increased social and economic pressures and stress on families, have led to an increase in violence. In many countries, it is estimated such violence has increased by at least 30 percent.

Moreover, while the virus spreads among persons of all ages, older persons and those with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of developing severe conditions and having higher death rates from Covid-19. Older persons who live alone may face barriers to obtaining accurate information, food, medication, and other essential supplies during quarantine conditions, necessitating community outreach.

The fourth group, young people, has been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis and has been confronted with multiple shocks, she said. Young Vietnamese migrants working abroad have had to deal with the sudden change in employment conditions and in some cases, had little choice but to return to Vietnam at short notice where they face a number of social and economic challenges linked to their reintegration into families, communities and the local labor market.

Le Bach Duong, UNFPA assistant representative, said the project would intervene in four areas - gender based violence, quality care for the elderly, sexual and reproductive health, and supporting young returning migrant workers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Takio Yamada, Japanese ambassador to Vietnam, said the Japanese people never forget the heartfelt help of Vietnamese friends for victims of the devastating 2011 tsunami. Japanese also received face masks from Vietnam, right at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, as a global supply chain was interrupted, resulting in a shortage of medical materials in many countries, including Japan.

"The project we are launching today is a continuation of this beautiful friendship between Japan and Vietnam."

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