Taking stock: a blog by Nick Blok

After three months, with 72 interviews in 5 provinces, 10 districts and 11 communes, it is time to take stock of my experience in Vietnam.

Generally speaking, I am impressed with the progress that has been made in Vietnam regarding dsc_0031contact investigation and preventive treatment in children. For one, acceptance and completion rates exceeded all expectations.
Photo by Nick BlokMoreover, the vast network of commune workers and volunteers ensures that there is ample opportunity to identify all eligible children for screening and preventive treatment. And most promising perhaps, health workers show great devotion to their work and patients.

At the same time, it is also important to reflect on action that could and should be taken to improve dsc_0040the situation even further.
In this respect, many suggestions can be made, but the biggest challenge by far consists of rolling out the program more widely across the country. This applies in particular to the provinces, districts and communes that are situated in mountainous and rural areas. Hopefully, my experiences will contribute to the program’s smooth implementation and improve its sustainability in the long term.

On a more personal level, I am confident that this period has enriched me tremendously.
In a relatively short time span, I have made great new friends and acquainted myself with nick_blok_vietnam_dsc_0230a complex political system. Photo by Nick BlokDuring the numerous lunches and dinners I attended, I heard many complaints about the current system, but also noticed a lot of ambition to move forward. I will miss the great food, karaoke, parties and great trips, but am happy to return to my friends, family and girlfriend, all of whom I missed dearly. I struggled with the passing of my grandmother. Unfortunately, I could not attend the funeral nor support my family. In the end, all of this will undoubtedly make me a stronger person.

Last but not least, I am very grateful towards all the KNCV staff at the Vietnam office. With your incredibly kind and welcoming spirit, you nick_blok_vietnam_dsc_0222_0have been the best hosts I could have hoped for. In particular, I want to express my appreciation for Huong and Agnes; the good reputation of KNCV you helped build, opened up doors for me that would have remained closed otherwise. And the final word of thanks goes out to the ‘s-Gravenhaagse stichting. I am humbled by the confidence and support you gave to train young staff in TB and hope you continue to do so in the future – this mission would not have been possible without it.

What awaits me now is my return to the Netherlands, but one thing is sure: I am already looking forward to my next mission in Ethiopia.

KNCV has been fighting TB since its establishment in 1903. Over the past 117 years, the organization has acquired indispensable knowledge and experience in the field of effective TB control, resulting in pre-elimination in the Netherlands and significant contributions to global evidence generation, policy development and TB program implementation worldwide.

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