In Vietnam, 5.8 percent of the population is considered disabled. For a country home to 95 million individuals, this equates to more than 5.2 million people. Often, those with disabilities face circumstances that challenge their quality of life, such as limited access to education, fewer work opportunities and difficulty with transportation and self-care. This article discusses three ways quality of life is improving for disabled persons in Vietnam.
Assisting disabled persons in Vietnam has been a top priority of USAID since the 1990s. Since then, the nation has made great progress in establishing equal rights for disabled people, whether their disability is classified as visual, auditory, mobile, speech-based or cognitive. The U.S. government has allocated more than $100 million to the disabled population and 30,000 individuals have received direct hands-on assistance, including vocational training, independent living assistance and job training. Several laws and amendments have been passed, all designed to improve the quality of life among the disabled population, including:
- 2001: Amendment to the Constitution of Vietnam
- 2006: Vocational Training Law
- 2010: National Law on Persons with Disabilities
- 2012: National Action Plan to Support People with Disabilities
The 2017 USAID report breaks down the types of assistance offered and the impact they have had. Over the course of the year, the organization met a variety of policy milestones, including the development of city construction projects to improve transportation and create sustainable housing for families. More than 9,000 people with disabilities received direct assistance, increasing the number of people with access to services by 29 times. As a prevention tactic, 62,000 children between the ages of one and six were screened for signs of future development of disabilities. In the towns of Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh, 17 rehabilitation units were set up and provided training for medical professionals.
While the 2018 report has not been released yet, USAID is carrying out a number of additional projects, with completion goals set in 2020. Among those is the Accessibility for Inclusion Project, a mission designed to not only raise awareness regarding basic rights of those with disabilities but to increase access to public buildings, ultimately expanding their social and physical capabilities. By the time the project is completed in 2020, research projects that at least 1,800 people will receive formal training to advocate for physical accessibility, and approximately 50,000 people with disabilities in Vietnam will have improved accessibility rights.
Global Disability Rights Now: The Impact
The Global Disability Rights Now! organization is focused on enforcing 10 specific disability rights in impoverished countries, ultimately putting an end to discrimination based on capability. Some of the principles include creating reasonable accommodations, changing the concept of defining disability and encouraging full participation in society. Global Disability Rights Now! carries out projects in Armenia, Guatemala, Kenya, Vietnam, Mexico and Peru.
One of the most successful projects to improve the lives of disabled persons in Vietnam was the mission to move towards disability inclusion in employment, a program that provided Disability Equality Training (DET) to the non-disabled community. It was designed to raise awareness towards potential barriers in employment that the disabled community in Vietnam face and to provide them with the resources they need to understand how to treat them as equals.
U.S. and Vietnam Partnership
On April 20, 2019, the USAID signed a memorandum of intent that was designed to drastically improve the quality of life for disabled persons in Vietnam. Specifically, the memorandum targeted seven Vietnamese provinces, including Quang Tri, Hue, Quang Nam, Binh Dinh, Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh. It is working to provide direct care to disabled individuals, along with expanding rehabilitation centers and developing community-level social services. USAID showed its support for those living with disabilities through celebrating Vietnam’s National Disability Day on April 18, 2019. More than 600 participants attended the “Run For Persons with Disabilities – No Distance, no Limitation” event, both with and without disabilities.
Although living conditions are still not ideal for individuals with disabilities in Vietnam, the programs and advocacy efforts being put in place by USAID are projected to drastically improve their lives. Efforts such as DET and the Accessibility for Inclusion Project are being implemented to equalize the two demographics, and in doing so, the nation expects to see an increase in opportunities and fair treatment among the disabled population in Vietnam by 2020.
– Anna Lagattuta