The head of health station's dream

Eager to provide health information to local people in a practical way, Mr. Nguyen Van Kien, Head of Son Trinh Village Health Station in Tan Lam Huong Commune, turned communication classes on “Hygiene promotions, commu-nity-led WASH-COVID-19 risk prevention” into exciting activities. The sessions received many positive responses from local people. This is an activity in the Central Flooding Emergency Response Project, implemented by Oxfam in Vietnam and Hatinh Centre for Community Development with support from the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF) and the Dutch Relief Alliance Fund under the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On an April afternoon at Son Trinh village (Tan Lam Huong Com-mune, Thach Ha District, Ha Tinh Province), vibrant laughter came from the village health station.

What was going on wasn’t a local cultural program but a com-munication session themed “Hygiene promotions, community-led WASH-COVID-19 risk prevention” carried out by the head of the health station, Mr. Tran Van Kien.

Although this was the second class organized, people were still extremely excited to participate. “Hearing from our neighbours who attended the previous session last week that the class is very informative and practical, with both theory and practice that are easy to understand, easy to remember, other local people around here and I are so willing to participate.”

Ceiling fans, wall fans running at full speed could not reduce the heat inside the auditorium. Yet, dozens of people still attentively listened and responded enthusiastically to the pre-senter; they were fascinated by the clever, witty storytelling and the charm of the station’s head. 

Ceiling fans, wall fans running at full speed could not reduce the heat inside the auditorium. Yet, dozens of people still attentively listened and responded enthusiastically to the presenter; they were fascinated by the clever, witty storytelling and the charm of the station’s head. From world news, domestic updates about the Covid-19 epidemic, to ways to prevent infectious and respiratory diseases, or instructions on how to wear a mask, 6 steps to properly wash hands, ... with each content, Mr. Kien always had a creative way to turn such large amount of information into friendly and receptive activities to the listeners, in the form of a demonstration by the heath station’s staff, or a Q&A session full of laughter from participants...  After nearly 3 hours, the communication session ended with the continuous applause of the whole hall.

“Not even in my dream can I think that one day I would speak in front of dozens of people and receive such great responses like this!”, Mr. Kien shared.

The idea of holding sharing sessions to improve knowledge for local people has sparked in Kien’s heart for a long time. For many years in his career, he empathized with the locals who were limited in getting and understanding health information and always took advantage of each village meeting to share with them for several minutes. However, the time spent on professional work is so great that Kien never had time to realize his dream.

As the deepest flooded commune in Thach Ha (Ha Tinh) during the flood in 2020, Tan Lam Huong’s top priorities were environmental sanitation, disease prevention, and ensuring clean water for local people. Because after the storms and floods, potential high risks of disease emerged. Communication activities of the project “Vietnam Central Flooding Response Project” implemented by Oxfam in Vietnam and HCCD, sponsored by the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF) and  the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, have collaborated with village and commune health workers to raise awareness of local people in practicing hygiene and keeping health after the flood.

Participants practiced WASH activity with the instructions of Son Trinh Health Station's staff

Informed by the Project on this campaign activities, Mr. Kien was so happy yet nervous. He recalled: “Previously I only conducted 5-10 minute talks in front of many people, but have never ‘gave lectures’ for 2-3 hours. Then I fear if the locals will happily participate or not, even though I know they lack information, often just passively getting it from radio or newspaper, not from a community sharing session like this”. But with determination, the head of the station rehearsed day and night, searching 
for ways to convey information so that listeners, regardless of their intellectual level, could easily understand, remember and practice.

“Partly thanks to my expertise, courage, and eloquence” - he smiled happily - “but mostly to my desire to share information with the locals that the first event went on successfully. I am now more confident to share my experiences with my colleagues in the station on how to organize the event or ways of communication ... so we can all learn and better promote.”

“The Project mobilizes the participation of women, who are easy to share and spread information to families and the neighborhoods. Another good point is that the program structure requires a lot of practice, so listeners can understand easily and correctly, and remember longer, especially the elderly group”, Mr. Kien was conscientious.

Receiving enthusiastic responses from the locals, Mr. Kien cherished an upcoming plan of organizing more sharing sessions on other groups of diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic pneumonia. “These are common diseases at present, but people are not aware of how to prevent them. If they understand it, that will save them a lot for maintaining good health! “ Kien’s voice filled with determination.