Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam

The pictures is from the field work in Vietnam. Photo: Tine Gammeltoft.
Field work in Vietnam. Photo: Tine Gammeltoft.

Global health is in transition. Whereas infectious diseases have long troubled human health, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are currently posing new and urgent challenges to individuals, families and governments across the globe. The prevalence of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes is rising dramatically, with particularly severe consequences for low- and middle-income countries.

As a case for addressing NCDs, this project focuses on type 2 diabetes in Vietnam, exploring the role of informal support in everyday disease management. The project is based on the assumption that informal support plays a significant, but under-recognized role in everyday disease management and that more systematic knowledge of the role of such informal support can significantly enhance national responses to the NCD epidemic, improving health systems capacities to address diabetes and other NCDs while also enhancing our understanding of the complex ways in which family and household dynamics shape individual and social responses to chronic health conditions.

 The project is conducted in Vietnam’s Thai Binh province as an academic partnership between Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy (TBUMP) and the Universities of Copenhagen (UoC) and Southern Denmark (SDU). The project is carried out in close collaboration with the Danish-Vietnamese Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) project: Strengthening the Frontline Grassroots Health Worker: Prevention and Management of NCDs at the Primary Health Care Level, with Novo Nordisk as private sector partner. The project places emphasis on research capacity building and includes a pilot intervention programme that introduces the use of mobile health (mHealth) technology in diabetes care in Thai Binh province.