Today President Bill Clinton visited the Ba Vi orphanage outside Hanoi, Vietnam – the third stop on his trip through Southeast Asia to see the Clinton Foundation’s work in the region. His travel to Vietnam comes almost twenty years since the President lifted the U.S. trade embargo on Vietnam and the announcement of the formal normalization of diplomatic relations with the country, and years of working in-country on through the Clinton Foundation on HIV/AIDS and TB.
The Ba Vi orphanage, which opened in 2001, was one of the first sites in Vietnam to accept HIV-positive children; in 2006, it became one of the first sites in the country that the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) worked to scale up access to anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV. The orphanage represents the tremendous progress Vietnam has made in strengthening HIV care and treatment across the country, particularly for children.
Building on the success of its HIV work, CHAI has expanded its programming in Vietnam to include preventative care, including using Isoniazid to stop HIV-positive youth from getting TB. TB is the top killer of people living with HIV, however Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) has been shown to reduce the risk of TB disease among this group. IPT therapy was not available for HIV-positive children in Vietnam before CHAI launched its IPT program in 2011. Today the program has reached 1,900 children at 19 facilities in four provinces.
President Clinton first saw an exam room at the orphanage’s clinic where IPT is conducted, and met with doctors and staff at the orphanage to learn how the IPT program has provided crucial care to HIV-positive children there. He then proceeded to a colorful open air auditorium, where Ba Vi's 77 children greeted him with a dance prepared especially for his visit. There he also visited the arts and crafts area of the auditorium to see some of Ba Vi’s daily activities, and the children presented him with a gift: an illustration they had made of their dreams for the future. With their medical needs taken care of, children here can focus on learning, art, dance, and other hobbies. Moving forward, CHAI will help build the life skills and confidence of these HIV-positive youth in order to help them overcome social stigma and integrate into society.
President Clinton was joined in the auditorium by Dr. Giang, director of the Social Labor Education Treatment Center; Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh, the head of the orphanage; and Dr. Long, the minister of health, who explained more about CHAI’s work in Vietnam and the lifesaving care and treatment CHAI has provided to the orphanage and throughout the country. The children closed the conversation with another song and dance that they had specially prepared for his visit.
To end the day, Avie Glazer, the co-chairman of Manchester United and a member of President Clinton’s Asia delegation, presented the children with a new set of soccer balls and Manchester United jerseys.
View more photos from President Clinton's visit to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Tomorrow, President Clinton will travel to Indonesia where he will visit Banda Aceh - a community he helped to "build back better" after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami - and Borneo, where the Clinton Climate Initiative has worked to conserve the local forest and support the community through carbon credits. Be sure to see follow us on Instagram at @ClintonFoundation for another view of our #CFAsia2014 trip.