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UNICEF announces collaboration agreement with Johnson & Johnson to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality among ethnic minorities in Viet Nam

Ha Noi, 9 December 2015 — The multinational company Johnson & Johnson and UNICEF signed a partnership agreement today to improve maternal and neonatal health, particularly focussing on the most vulnerable women and children in ethnic minority communities. The contribution will support the Ministry of Health’s efforts in saving lives of mothers and children by improving the access to quality health care services, building capacity of the heath staff in four disadvantaged provinces of Dien Bien, Lao Cai, Kon Tum and Gia Lai with a total population of over three million and the majority of them are ethnic minorities.

Viet Nam has made remarkable progress in saving the lives of mothers and children in the past decades. Maternal and child deaths were reduced significantly between 1990 and 2014. However, an estimate of more than 18,000 newborns died every year in Viet Nam. The main causes of neonatal mortality are asphyxia, infection and premature delivery. Large disparities exist between regions and ethnic groups. For example infant mortality rate in Kom Tum province is 2.6 times higher than the national average. Child mortality rate among ethnic minorities remains three times higher than that of the Kinh majority.

Most of these deaths are preventable with simple interventions, which include skilled birth attendance, early essential newborn care, early initiation of breastfeeding, and Kangaroo-mother care (KMC) for premature and low weight babies. “We cannot let these preventable and treatable causes continue to claim the lives of mothers and newborns. We must act to ensure that all children are born into a safe and healthy world. The partnership with Johnson & Johnson will lead to great improvements in the health and well-being of Vietnamese women and children, especially for the most disadvantaged ones”, said Mr. Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam.

During the five years of partnership, Johnson & Johnson, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health are expected to build capacity for more than 3,000 health workers and ethnic minority midwives on skilled birth assistance, early essential newborn care and Kangaroo-mother care. Coaching and supportive supervision are also provided to health workers and midwives in the four project provinces to ensure the quality performance in maternal and child health care. Communication activities are also conducted to create demand for using quality health services among pregnant women, those at child bearing age and those having small children. The aim is also to provide at least three antenatal care check- ups for 80 per cent of pregnant women and to contribute to reducing the rates of mortality among mothers, and newborn and infant in the four provinces of Lao Cai, Dien Bien, Gia Lai and Kon Tum.

For further information, please contact:

  • Mr. Louis Vigneault-Dubois, UNICEF Viet Nam +84-4-38500241 ; +84-966539673 ;
  • Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, UNICEF Việt Nam, 84-4-38500225; +84-904154678; email: 



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