Improving Childhood Nutrition in Rural Vietnam

This blog was provided by Abbott.

A Partnership Between Abbott, the Abbott Fund, AmeriCares and the Giao Diem Humanitarian Foundation

For many children in rural and economically depressed Vietnamese communities, malnutrition and poor health are often the predominant challenge to their success in early childhood education. In 2004, the Giao Diem Humanitarian Foundation conducted a study that found half of 300 local children ages 3 to 7 years old were undernourished according to World Health Organization standards.

To improve the nutritional health of children in rural areas of Vietnam, the global healthcare company Abbott and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, have partnered together with AmeriCares and the Giao Diem Humanitarian Foundation on the program, Partnership to Improve Childhood Nutrition, since 2005.

Operating in rural provinces of Vietnam where childhood malnutrition rates have been among the highest in the country, the partnership focuses on local solution to address the problem of malnutrition among preschool- and kindergarten-age children, from 2 to 6 years old, in central and southern Vietnam. Administered through a network of local schools, the program has two main components:

  1. The primary objective is to maintain and improve nutrition and overall health among children. This aspect of the program centers on providing locally produced, peanut-fortified soymilk, breakfast, vitamins and supplements for underweight children who attend both morning and afternoon sessions during the school day. During the monsoon season when severe flooding hinders soymilk production, Abbott donates Pediasure, a nutritional drink for children.
  2. The second objective is to educate parents, teachers, teacher aids and school cooks about basic health and nutrition, giving them the resources and tools they need to support children and ensure they achieve better nutrition. Through its provision of basic nutrition information to parents and school staff, the program aims to improve the health and lives of entire families, and to have a sustainable impact at the community level.

To date, Abbott and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, have provided more than U.S. $3.6 million in financial grants and product donations to support the program.

During the current 2015-2016 school year, the program is providing support for 3,000 children in several villages in three provinces, including An Giang (in the South); Thua Thien (in central Vietnam where both Phu Loc and Hue North districts are located); and Quang Tri (adjacent to and north of Thua Thien).

Since 2005, the program has reached more than 30,000 children, with malnutrition rates among participating children dropping below the U.N. Millennium Development Goal to approximately 20 percent.

From the beginning of the partnership, sustainability was a critical factor for effective expansion and scale up. The program was designed to achieve long-term improvements in nutrition that can be maintained with the support of parents and school staff—without continued participation in the program. By graduating schools that demonstrate the ability to meet targets and perform independently, the partnership is able to reach more students in new schools.


This series of blog posts is intended to shine a spotlight on the 2015 Business Action on Health finalists’ programs. Each of the highlighted initiatives provides a powerful example of effective organizational responses, innovative solutions and multi-sectoral approaches to today’s most pressing health priorities.