During 9-12 October, the SUNI-SEA consortium members met face-to-face for the first time in three years in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The four-day meeting was an opportunity to share and discuss the findings of the baseline survey and reflect on the learning and the progress achieved for the implementation of the research activities. The programme also included a wonderful opportunity to conduct a site visit to Ninh Binh province to meet with provincial health department leaders, local authorities and to visit an Intergenerational Self-Help Club (ISHC). The visit highlighted the importance of a multisector approach to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and the significant role that the ISHCs play in enhancing the health and wellbeing of their club members, in particular for NCDs prevention and control.
Currently, both Vietnam and Indonesia country teams are busy preparing for the endline survey. During the meeting, the research team reviewed and agreed on the survey structure and the content of the questionnaire. A detailed activity plan for all stages of the survey was completed. We are expecting preliminary results in April 2023. One of the key findings expected is the cost effectiveness of the NCDs intervention.
The consortium members also discussed overall project activities for the remaining project period, which will end in June 2023. During the count-down period, Indonesia team will focus their efforts on providing training for the cadres in Posbindu to ensure that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge required. In Indonesia strengthening the linkages between primary health care facilities and communities remains the key to success of the project. The Vietnam team will continue their advocacy efforts with local health authorities. In addition, the capacity building for health care staff, leaders of community groups and ongoing monitoring and evaluation will keep the team busy during the months ahead. In 2021 in response to the changed environment in Myanmar, the team adapted the project to integrate mental health issues as part of their NCDs interventions and expanded their work to an additional project site. The team has also been busy embracing internet technology to support community level NCDs data collection, as well as designing an online learning platform for continuing online professional development for basic health staff; and adapting a series of NCDs training modules to an online training format. During this period continued work to increase community participation in healthcare services is an integral part of the work for all three countries.
The dissemination and communication of project findings will be a central part of our work in 2023. The project’s publication committee, including the lead researchers met during the consortium meeting to discuss their publications and the international journals they plan to submit to. In the next few months, the research team will also take part in scientific conferences, meetings, workshops and webinars to share the learning and results of the SUNI-SEA project. Apart from the scientific community, SUNI-SEA team also aims to share our learning and core concepts to a wider audience such as policy makers, non-government agencies working on ageing and health issues, donors and international agencies.
During our meeting, we were honoured to welcome SUNI-SEA advisory board members, Prof Nawi Ng, Professor of Global Health, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Sweden; Prof Luong Huy Luong, Head of Division of Quality Assurance and Technical Direction, Department of Medical Services Administration, Vietnam Ministry of Health and Prof Adi Utarinin, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. In addition, Dr Paul Cowal, University of Newcastle, Research Fellow, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, Australia, participated in the advisory board remotely.
So far, we have learnt that strengthening the synergy between public health care facilities and communities, promoting NCDs self-care-interventions and strengthening the quality of community health care can lead to better health outcomes among community members. With only six months until the end of the project there is plenty of work to do. We look forward with excitement to share our learning, challenges, and achievements.