AstraZeneca commits to strengthening the health of Vietnam’s youth

May 30, 2022 | 09:55
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AstraZeneca has vowed to continue assisting Vietnam’s young people in living long and healthy lives through a programme that empowers teenagers in the country to adopt better and safer habits.
AstraZeneca commits to strengthening the health of Vietnam’s youth
AstraZeneca is putting up strong efforts to ensure healthy habits in young people

Chairman and general director of AstraZeneca Vietnam Nitin Kapoor said that the company has pledged $35 million globally to continue the Young Health Programme (YHP) to 2025. “This enables us to expand into the second phase of YHP in Vietnam,” Kapoor said. “We are committed to doing our best for the Vietnamese people, society, and environmental sustainability, and in this case for the youth – our future.”

The YHP empowers teenagers in Vietnam to take on healthier lifestyles in order to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later on in life. It also helps policymakers, healthcare leaders, and educators to build strategies and collaborative programmes to scale up that effort.

Last July, the prevention of NCDs was officially included in the country’s Youth Development Strategy for 2021-2030, which is set up to shape a positive future for young people.

Like other fast-developing countries, Vietnam has seen a shift in the burden of disease. With the economy and living standards gradually increasing, as well as effective vaccination campaigns for children and adults, infectious diseases have mostly been under control. However, NCDs are on the rise, responsible for over three-quarters of all annual deaths in Vietnam, straining both the health system and patients’ lives.

NCDs are often linked to risk factors beginning in adolescence, such as tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and exposure to air pollution – and the problem has grown in the past decade. In 2016, almost a quarter of those aged over 15 in Vietnam smoked tobacco. Alcohol usage has also been rising rapidly with an increase in beer production of over 40 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

Vietnam currently has the second-highest rate of alcohol-use disorders in the whole of Asia, and worrying statistics like these explain why NCD prevention programmes are crucial to preserving the health of younger generations.

As a major global biopharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca has been at the forefront of building sustainable healthcare systems and enhancing equitable access to healthcare. They have invested significantly in NCD prevention, early detection, and early treatment through various programmes with healthcare partners.

The YHP came into being in 2019 on the back of the government’s Vietnam Health Programme, which advocates for NCD prevention as one of its top priorities towards 2030. AstraZeneca brought its award-winning disease prevention initiative to Vietnam thanks to collaborations with local partners such as Plan International Vietnam, the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, and the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The programme’s model is to maximise peer-to-peer education and outreach, as well as leverage support from parents, teachers, and schools, to build knowledge and skills for youths and empower them to make informed decisions about their health.

After nearly three years of operation, and despite the global interruptions, the programme has not only met but also exceeded the targets set out at the beginning. YHP has trained 538 peer educators and benefited more than 49,000 young people directly in two districts of Hanoi as part of the first phase’s scope.

In addition, YHP’s policy advocacy initiatives have resulted in NCD prevention amongst youth now getting the attention it deserves, with several important government policy documents incorporating it.

On a global scale, YHP has reached more than 40 million young people in more than 30 countries since 2010. Given these encouraging results and tangible impacts, AstraZeneca has reaffirmed its strong commitment to advancing the programme.

Improving the health and wellbeing of youngsters will deliver a triple dividend, according to AstraZeneca: not only will it deliver major benefits for youngsters themselves and those around them, but it will also improve their health as adults and the health of any children they will have.

By Bich Thuy

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