MSV Impact

The Marie Stopes Ladies program successfully brings reproductive health and family planning services and products to Vietnamese women

Under this innovative scheme, trained midwives and population collaborators provide advice and affordable products to local people, increasing their access to family planning and preventing unwanted pregnancies while generating a sustainable income for themselves and their families. 

Nguyen Thi Huong is a midwife at Vu Bon Commune Health Station in Krong Pac, Dak Lak, Vietnam. She has been working as an MS Lady since May 2017. Talking about reproductive health care and family planning services for women in Krong Pac, Dak Lak, Huong said: “The most difficult problem is that we can’t communicate with some of the migrant ethnic groups. They are not always trusting of other ethnic groups and so have the tendency to avoid people from outside their community.”  In order to approach these ethnic minority groups, Huong visits the communities with a colleague who can speak their native language. “Sometimes we need to come back four to five times in order to convince some couples to use our family planning products and services. I have realized that I simply do not just do this because of the job requirements, but because I feel that is the right thing to do. Women here are just like women anywhere else, and they also have the right to choose the number of children they want to have.”

 

MS Lady Nguyen Thi Huong counseling about different FP methods to an ethnic couple.

When asked about an unforgettable experience, Huong said: “I was informed that there is a couple from the Ede ethnic group where the wife was only 32 years old but already had eight children. When I approached them to introduce them to birth control methods for the first time, they refused me. However, I was not ready to give up, so I came back to them four more times and finally the wife agreed to use the intrauterine device (IUD). Because they have so many children, the husband couldn’t look after all of them during the appointment, so the wife still carried the smallest baby to sit on top of her belly during the IUD insertion.”

 

MS Lady Nguyen Thi Huong providing IUD insertion service for ethnic woman in Dak Lak.

In Thai Nguyen, the project team haven’t experienced the same difficulties in communicating and approaching women as in Dak Lak but instead face difficulty in convincing women of different religions. 

Nguyen Thi Toan is a midwife at Dai Tu, Thai Nguyen and has been working as an MS Lady for over a year. “In different religions they have different beliefs about contraception and marriage. Women in my area have the opportunity to access sexual and reproductive health knowledge because of previous projects implemented by MSV here. However, some women say contraception and abortion are against their beliefs so it’s really difficult for us to educate that group of women”, said Toan.

Not only helped improving counseling skills and knowledge, the project also helped MS Ladies to increase their monthly income significantly. “I love this job. Being the breadwinner of the family, with a pre-mature child that I have to bring to Hanoi every month for physical improvement treatment, the additional income (of about 3 million VND per month, equivalent to 130USD) is really significant for me”, said an MS Lady in Thai Nguyen.

 

MS Lady in Thai Nguyen talking about different FP methods for a group of women.

MS Ladies in different areas have their own methods to approach clients and sell their products. Bui Thuy Hoang has been working as a midwife in Bao Ai Commune Health Station in Yen Bai for nine years. She proudly talked about how her sales and negotiation skills have improved after working as an MS Lady: “I always knew that it is very difficult to persuade women here to buy reproductive health services and products, especially the iron supplement. That’s why I decided to offer my potential clients a free box of the product. In one family, after my client finished one box, she loved the product so much that she came back to me and bought enough for the whole family, including her husband”.

Hoang also mentioned that this job allows her to communicate and understand clients better and increase her monthly income. “Before becoming an MS Lady, I didn’t care much about communicating and building relationships with my clients. Since joining this program I was trained to improve my counseling skills. I also have a better relationship with my clients and they come back here for my counseling very frequently.”, Hoang said happily, “This job has also helped me to improve my income significantly because I have a number of frequent clients. This means a lot to me because we have two children to raise and we will need savings for their education.” 

 

MS Ladies bring affordable FP products to ethnic women in Yen Bai, Vietnam. 

“Now I’m very happy and feel grateful that I’m doing such a meaningful job”, Hoang said. “To me, being an MS Lady is not simply work, but it’s also making a contribution to the development of our hometown and providing a brighter future for people in our community”.

The MS Ladies program will be expanded to two northern mountainous provinces of Son La and Lao Cai to support even more women improve their livelihoods and increase access to modern contraception and quality counselling by midwives and local obstetricians. The program gives midwives an opportunity to develop their businesses and become more economically empowered. It is funded by the Australian Government. 

 

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