SOURCE: Counterpart International

December 14, 2007 08:00 ET

Counterpart International's Emergency Medical Services Program in Vietnam Has Increased Life Saving Interventions 67% Over Five Years

HANOI, VIETNAM--(Marketwire - December 14, 2007) - An initiative by global humanitarian and development organization Counterpart International to introduce emergency medical services (EMS) to Vietnam has resulted in a 67% increase in life-saving pre-hospital emergency care since 2002.

Counterpart's "EMS Program" -- which was designed to reduce death rates due to injury in large cities and statistically high injury hot zones of several Vietnamese provinces -- has built the capacity and expertise of Vietnam's EMS government agencies. More than 35,000 people with injuries or in critical medical condition are helped yearly in the program provinces, compared to 21,000 in 2002.

"In the developed world, people take their local emergency room, trauma teams and ambulances for granted," says Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoai Thu, Counterpart's Health Program Manager in Vietnam. "But when Counterpart started up its EMS Program in Vietnam, injury was epidemic. There was an extreme need for pre-hospital care in my country."

The 2003 UNICEF Vietnam Injury Survey found that road traffic accidents account for 37% of all injury fatalities in Vietnam, followed by falls (20%) and drownings (15%). For non-fatal injuries, the common causes were falls (33%), road traffic accidents (24%) and sharp objects (15%).

"One major objective was to reduce the response time for ambulances to reach patients and transfer them to the hospital," says Ms. Thu. "Under the EMS Program, more attention has been paid to the improvement of emergency rooms, given that valuable minutes saved in the pre-hospital period will be of no use if the patients do not receive timely and appropriate care in the hospital."

The current phase of the program, funded by a $1-million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies (AP) for the period from 2004-2007, operates in Ha Noi, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Thua Thien Hue and Hung Yen provinces through:

1.  Trauma Care Curriculum Development and Training

    -- Counterpart developed comprehensive trauma care programs for
       doctors and nurses and is working with the Vietnam Ministry of
       Health to roll the programs out nationwide.

    -- Counterpart has supported the development and operation of three
       EMS training centers in Ha Noi, Da Nang and Khanh Hoa.

    -- Counterpart developed a core group of 26 trauma care trainers who
       have trained 1,500 other Vietnamese medical professionals in
       up-to-date techniques.

2.  Community-based Injury Prevention and First-Aid Training

    -- In partnership with the Red Cross in Ha Noi, Da Nang and Khanh Hoa
       provinces, Counterpart has developed a team of 32 first-aid
       trainers. This group has trained more than 1,100 people in basic
       first-aid care.

    -- Counterpart implemented the "Safe Fleet" community program,
       training 200 local taxi motorbike drivers in first-aid and safe
       driving techniques and equipping them with first aid kits to
       provide safe ride and accident first-response services in their
       communities. (Motorbikes are the most common means of transport
       in Vietnam.)

    -- Counterpart implemented the "Safe Home" community program,
       training 70 injury prevention workers to conduct home evaluations
       and distribute grants to help families address injury risks
       identified during the evaluations.

    -- Counterpart implemented the "Safe School" community program,
       training 30 injury prevention workers to teach injury awareness
       in schools and distribute grants to help students' families
       address injury risks in their homes.

3.  EMS Support

    -- Counterpart has provided funding and shipments of donated
       equipment to modernize EMS centers and emergency rooms.

    -- Counterpart has successfully introduced low-cost but high-yield
       medical equipment and instruments in Vietnam such as
       cervical-collars and back-boards.

    -- Counterpart has helped EMS centers in Ha Noi, Da Nang and
       Thua Thien Hue to adopt Data Record Systems that have improved
       the collection and analysis of data on EMS.

4.  Improvement of Trauma Care Standards

    -- Counterpart supports the Ministry of Health in the translation,
       publication and dissemination throughout Vietnam of the World
       Health Organization's Essential Trauma Care Guidelines and
       Pre-Hospital Trauma Care Guidelines.

    -- Counterpart has supported efforts in the five provinces to achieve
       compliance with the internationally recognized standards of trauma
       and emergency care.

One US-based partner organization, the University of Washington in Seattle, has provided important technical support in training development.

The current phase of the EMS program concludes in March 2008. Recognizing the achievements to date, AP awarded a new grant to Counterpart in December 2007 to begin implementation in early 2008. In this phase, Counterpart will support the development of a comprehensive Pre-Hospital Trauma Care system in Khanh Hoa province of Vietnam.

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For more than 40 years, Counterpart International has given people a voice in their own future through smart partnerships, offering options and access to tools for sustained social, economic and environmental development.

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