Corporate Health Program

Impact: Scaling up access for young factory workers

We take a look at a project in Vietnam which provides access to contraception for young people working in factories.

The number of migrant factory workers in Vietnam is increasing, and estimated to rise to six million by 2019. The majority of these workers are girls and young women aged 15 and 24. Our peer educators are helping to meet their ever growing demands for family planning services.

The peer educators scheme – Advancing Social Economic Empowerment of Female Migrant Workers through Development and Implementation of Gender-sensitive Initiatives – is run by Marie Stopes Vietnam with funding from the European Union.

These peer educators are factory workers who provide practical advice and support to their colleagues, referring them to Marie Stopes Vietnam centres and BlueStar clinics where a voucher scheme ensures they receive affordable treatment.

Young women make up a large majority of factory workers in Vietnam and many have left their home-towns and families far behind to take up the work. For these young people, having trusted colleagues with whom they can share worries or ask for advice is incredibly important.

Vietnam and beyond
To date, 279 workers across nine factories in the Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces have been trained by Marie Stopes Vietnam as part of the scheme. Training covers a wide range of reproductive health topics such as contraceptive methods and STDs, as well as topics like communication and public relations skills, gender equality law, and labour laws relating to women’s rights.

One of the main objectives of the peer educators scheme has been to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for high impact and marginalised groups. In the short time it has been running, between 2013 and 2015, it has been very successful by:

    - Engaging nine factories with a population of around 100,000 female workers;
    - Prompting more than 500,000 client visits, either directly or indirectly;
    - Training 120 medical staff on sexual and reproductive health counselling;
    - Giving more than 5,000 workers discounts at Marie Stopes Vietnam clinics through an e-voucher program;
    - Reducing the percentage of out-of-pocket payment on health by female migrant workers to 26%.

The success of the scheme has led to similar initiatives being adopted in Cambodia. Marie Stopes Cambodia has introduced Partnering to Save Lives – working with CARE, Save the Children and Australian Aid to address the lack of access many factory workers still face across the country.

Peer educators receive their training certificates.

At the Peer Educators Congress, practical information and experience were shared among the factory workers through contests and games.

Peer education sessions take various forms, including large groups, small groups and one-on-one interactions. They usually took place before shifts or during lunch-times.

It's essential peer educators articulate information in a simple and easy to understand way. Any technical questions are passed to Marie Stopes Vietnam experts for follow up.

On health fair days, mobile clinics are held at the factory and peer educators organise communication activities and fun quizzes on reproductive health.

Tran Tuan Bao and Nguyen Thi Gion are peer educators who have been promoting safe sex and contraceptions to their colleagues at Shyang Hung Cheng factory since 2013.

Tran Tuan Bao is one of five male peer educators at the factory, and he's so passionate about his role that he even makes use of his commuting time and lunch break to advise his colleagues. He says: "The provision of information on reproductice health so as to prevent disease, receive immediate counselling and medical care means a lot to workers. I am devoted to putting my best effort into this work to share information for as many workers as possible. Gradually, people also understand the significance of a peer educator's job."'

Nguyen Thi Gion says of her work as a peer educator: "Ever since Marie Stopes Vietnam equipped us with knowledge, we felt very confident to advise workers about reproductive health issues. Every time the workers received the answers they were looking for, they would be very happy. Even if I had to go without lunch or advised workers who came to my house during my days off to ask questions, I still felt very happy."

Tran Tuan Bao and Nguyen Thi Gion live in a dorm with other migrant workers, meaning their valuable work doesn't stop in the factory - as colleagues can continue to seek advice even at home.

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