Australian Embassy

Media Release - 03/7/2014

Australian NGO helped Vietnamese children with chronic conditions


Caring and Living As Neighbours (CLAN), an Australian NGO working on helping children living with chronic health conditions, has cooperated with the National Hospital for Pediatrics (NHP) to organise the first Club meeting for about 100 families of children who are living with Lupus today, 3 July 2014.

Since arriving in Vietnam on 21 June, CLAN’s experts, Dr Kate Armstrong and Dr Elisabeth Hodson, have supported training for health professionals and approximately 600 families at leading children's hospitals and treatment centres in HCMC, Hue, Thai Binh and Hanoi, focusing on Nephrotic Syndrome (a chronic kidney condition). These meetings provided the opportunity for parents to gather together, improve their knowledge and skills, share experiences and support each other. On 6 July they will also support Club meetings for families of children living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD – a disease that causes progressive muscle weakness in boys) and Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI – a brittle bone disease).

“The world really just does not hear enough from children and families living with chronic health conditions in low- and middle- income countries, so CLAN is committed to doing all we can to raise their voices. We plan to use the hashtag #SUBC (Stand Up Be Counted) to share images and messages from families in Vietnam to the world” said Dr Kate Armstrong, founder and President of CLAN.

CLAN has been collaborating with health professionals and families in Vietnam since 2004. Its mission is to help children living with chronic health conditions (eg Diabetes, Autism, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Kidney Disease etc) in Vietnam and other resource-poor settings enjoy a quality of life on par with that of their neighbours’ children in Australia. “In Australia families of children with chronic health conditions routinely turn to family support networks for information and encouragement. These communities receive a lot of support from Australian businesses, individuals and philanthropists, and they make a great difference to families. CLAN is hopeful these support networks will continue to grow stronger in Vietnam” said Dr Armstrong.

HE Mr Hugh Borrowman, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, commented: “I am pleased to learn that CLAN has successfully helped the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Nephrotic Syndrome and Lupus communities come together for education, support and encouragement. It would be great to see the Vietnamese private sector and sponsors get behind these communities.”

Last year, the Australian Embassy provided CLAN with a grant of nearly AUD10,000 with which they were able to raise social awareness of the chronic illnesses and enhance the knowledge and skills of the parents of DMD and OI affected children so that they can better care for their children and build strong, supportive communities. This has also helped reduce the burden for hospitals in Vietnam.

CLAN has received incredible contributions from doctors of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead (Sydney, Australia) for their projects in Vietnam. Many world respected experts from the hospital have not only given their time and expertise free of charge but also funded their own travel and at times help CLAN raise much needed funds.

For more information, please contact Ms Vu Binh Chau, Media Officer of the Australian Embassy at [email protected].