September 26

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My project begins

Xin Chao from Hanoi!

I have completed little over two months at Hanoi and just wondering how the time flies off. Hanoi is my second home now and I really did not have iota of anxiety while coming back to Hanoi after short trip to Mumbai to attend Ganapati festival. My one third tenure of PULSE assignment is over and I am all charged up to execute my project work.

We are planning to conduct the study at mountainous, underdeveloped regions of Yen Bai province catering to ethnic minorities (Mu Cang Chai and Tram Tau districts) to understand the malnutrition and worm infection rate in children under five years of age, and hygienic practices of care takers to gather evidence linking malnutrition to water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

The link between nutrition and WASH has been established based on the condition called “Environmental Enteropathy”. It is a disorder of small intestines caused by constant fecal-oral contamination and lack of access to WASH and results into reduced nutrient absorption. Children suffering from this condition are expected to have a poor nutrition outcome, no matter how many underlying factors such as food and proper feeding practices are addressed extensively.  With clear understanding of malnutrition causes, interventions can then be better targeted to the children. Further, my  study results will help in strengthening  the nutrition interventions by Save the Children in Yen Bai province and in general mountainous areas of Vietnam.

As a certified Project Management Professional, I am aware that good planning is key to success of the project. As the project manager, my first step in Project Initiation was to identify Key Stakeholders and develop project charter (study objectives, rationale and methodology). I am happy that my internal stakeholders –understanding line manager, very competent and hard working colleagues in my study team and consultants of the International repute to Save The Children and external stakeholders – UNICEF, Vietnam Health Environment Management Agency (VIHEMA), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) at Yen Bai Province and Dept of Preventive Medicine at Hanoi Medical University are extremely supportive of the project work. I will say great reputation and consistent work performance by ‘Save the children’ plays the major role in getting approvals from and bringing government dignitaries on same page.

 

Clockwise

Mr Hung , Deputy Director, Department of Water Resources and Rural Water Supply Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Dr Phu Assoc Professor, Dept of Preventive Medicine, Hanoi Medical University

Dr Ha (Director, CDC) on my right and Dr Thanh (Deputy Director, CDC) from Yen Bai province.

Ms Hien , Project Lead ,UNICEF

 

Given very hard working community, it was no wonder that my appointment with UNICEF representative was at 8 am on Friday. Yes 8 am! In most offices, day begins at 8 am or earlier. I am privileged to have Dr Phu (Assoc prof, Dept of Preventive Medicine, Hanoi Medical centre) as my mentor. He has rich experience of conducting studies in distant parts of Vietnam. Dr Thanh from Yen Bai province is pillar of strength to the study and he takes care of administrative tasks and execution of the study.

I visited Yen Bai province HQ to attend the project kick start meeting on 20th September. It was no surprise that the meeting started sharp at 9 am and lasted for more than couple of hours. Director, Deputy Director and others from Preventive Medicine and Centre for Disease Control were the attendees. We had thread bare discussion on the study methodology. Overall, I was satisfied with the Initiation and Planning phase.

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Project Kick off meeting at Yen Bai HQ

Aha road to success is never smooth and as expected some glitches are there. To begin with, my project is new and has no pre-allocated financial resources. Therefore, to make provision for this study I have to walk a tight rope and content with funding adjusted from other projects. To add to my worry, October is the month of harvest in Vietnam and it will be difficult to recruit children and their caretakers into the study. However, I am all ready to face the challenges and will let you know in next blog my project progress. Until then,

Bao trong (Take care) and Chuc may man(Good Luck)!