In the rural mountain areas of Vietnam, poor formal health systems fail to address important primary health care issues. A volunteer program, implemented from 2002 to 2005, involved young medical staff from the Vietnam Union of Students in addressing health staff shortages, and providing basic medical outreach in these areas. The study evaluates the health impacts of the volunteer intervention using quasi-experimental design and cluster analysis, and by estimating the average treatment effect on the treated using propensity score matching methods with two-stage sample data collection.
The study found that the volunteer project was successful to a certain extent in improving beneficiaries’ preparedness for communicable disease reduction. Though no actual reduction in incidence of disease was observed over two years, the level of awareness and knowledge developed by the project will be an important asset for the community, and might impact efforts to fight diseases in the long term.
Within the span of the study, health-seeking behavior related to birthing procedures and individual hygiene practices did not change in the treated households, suggesting the need for more systematic outreach to the target population.
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