Promoting inclusion of the needs and concerns of people with disabilities into mainstream social and economic development programs is a difficult task. For several years VNAH has encouraged and assisted the Vietnamese government to press forward on the issue -- yielding significant results in recent months.
For the first time, the needs of Vietnamese with disabilities are being addressed in the national poverty reduction program (from 2006-2010) as one of the top priorities in the development agenda of Vietnam, which plans to invest US$2.8 billion. The program has formally incorporated the needs and interests of people with disabilities, particularly in areas related to education, health care and micro-credit.
In addition, for the first time, the responsible ministries have joined forces to develop a multi-sector, multi-year disability program dedicated to improving the living situations of people with disabilities. The National Action Plan on Disability (NAP) seeks to institutionalize disability issues and strongly supports the creation of a funding program in the amount of VND412 billion (US$26 million) from government and other donors for disability programs. This will pave the way for local governments to set up funding in their annual budgets for programs that serve people with disabilities at the provincial level. The NAP will also set goals, objectives and guidelines for local policy makers, planners and other stakeholders to design programs for people with disabilities.
Mainstreaming is also progressing significantly on other fronts. Earlier this year, the final draft of the Vocational Law included a chapter with several provisions on people with disabilities. This process was impacted directly by inputs from VNAH and the disability community. In addition, the Statistics Office of Vietnam has considered plans to include disability statistics in the upcoming national survey on living standards (VLSS), again a development shaped by advocacy and support from NCCD, VNAH, MCNV, the World Bank and others. The survey, which takes place every two years, will adopt international standards on classifications of disabilities, and is expected to provide improved, comprehensive data on disabilities.