Abbott Fund sees improved inpatients' nutrition care at hospitals across Vietnam

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In 2010 in the face of serious malnutrition rates in hospitals in Vietnam, some upwards of 78 percent amongst inpatients at surgery departments, the Abbott Fund and Boston University School of Medicine joined Bach Mai hospital, the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the Hanoi Medical University to establish the Abbott Fund Institute of Nutrition Science (AFINS) - the first program of its kind in the country in advancing clinical nutrition.

Recently the international organizations and their local partners have shared updates on the accomplishments of AFINS at its midterm review in Hanoi. This is the first project in Vietnam that sees the collaboration of many prestigious local and international medical and academic institutions striving for a shared goal in improving nutritional care of inpatients at hospitals across the country.  

The first ever program for improving the nutrition of Vietnamese people

"AFINS is a strong example of effective partnership, with each organization contributing unique capabilities and resources to strengthen patients nutrition care," said Ms Suki McClatchey, senior manager, the Abbott Fund.

AFINS is the first program of its kind in Vietnam to advance clinical nutrition in such a comprehensive way: through training, integrating better practices into hospital patient care, developing a specialty track in clinical nutrition among nurses resulting in a new academic degree and new jobs; and conducting research to identify best practices in nutrition medicine adapted to the Vietnamese context. These areas align with the Ministry of Health's broader goals to improve nutrition care across the country.

Among the outstanding achievements, AFINS has established Vietnam's first clinical nutrition center (according to decision No. 2166/QĐ-BYT issued on 21 June 2010). Bach Mai Hospital's clinical nutrition center now serves as a model for hospital-based clinical nutrition practices. It has also established a satellite hospital network in Clinical Nutrition and supports several provincial hospitals in organizing their own Nutrition departments.

Among other remarkable achievements gained in the first 2 years of the project, AFINS has trained more than 1,200 staff on nutrition care at hospitals, initiated educational programs offering degrees in clinical nutrition, conducted the first large-scale prevalence study of hospital-based nutrition, and hosted Vietnam's first national conferences on clinical nutrition.

Ms Suki McClatchey added "Proper nutrition practices are being implemented in hospitals to strengthen ongoing patient care, and research will help to determine the right ways to continue to improve clinical nutrition in the years to come." She highlighted targeted training and educational programs via AFINS will help develop tomorrow's nutrition experts.

More to be done to improve the nutritional status of Vietnamese people

While the initial results of AFINS have remarkably improved the nutritional status of inpatients at hospitals, its partners still identify a big gap to fill for advancing clinical nutrition. Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Thi Lam, Deputy Director of NIN, shared "Currently up to 31% hospitals have yet to introduce a nutrition department, and among those hospitals with nutrition departments, only 19% apply a proper nutritional care scheme."

To this end, in terms of clinical services, Bach Mai Hospital will procure additional equipment for high-level nutrition support as well as essential supplies and equipment for target provincial hospitals. For example, BMH continues to expand milk lab services to all wards. The hospital's staff will implement nutrition assessments for evaluating nutrition status of patients throughout the entire hospital, conduct additional in-service training and continue to expand outreach to provincial hospitals.

With regards to education, Hanoi Medical University will teach and graduate the first class of over 20 students in a specialty program in Clinical Nutrition, evaluate results of its first specialty training class, plan for a second class of this specialty program, and develop additional undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs as well.

From a research perspective, the NIN will launch a post-surgical intervention study in collaboration with Bach Mai Hospital and publish the results from their large-scale nutrition study conducted in 2011.

AFINS in Vietnam builds on the Abbott Fund strategy to find innovative, long-term solutions. With $3.8 million U.S. (nearly 80 billion VND) in support from the Abbott Fund, AFINS has generated real improvements in nutrition hospital care for hospitalized patients. Building on this foundation, AFINS partners are confident that they will continue to generate important achievements in the years to come.

The Abbott Fund Institute of Nutrition Science, or AFINS, was created to advance clinical nutrition care in hospitals. This partnership, launched in 2010, is unique in Vietnam, as it is the first to leverage the expertise and resources of international and local prestigious medical organizations. Since 2005, Abbott and the Abbott Fund have invested more than. $9 million U.S (185 billion VND), to address critical needs in Vietnam. For more information, visit www.abbottfund.org

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