The Early Journey of Life (EJOL) is a parenting education program which focuses on the first 1000 days of the child's life (phase 2021 – 2022). It was formerly called Learning Clubs for Women’s Health and Infant Health and Development, and is an intervention developed in a collaboration between the Research and Training Centre for Community Development (RTCCD) in Hanoi, Vietnam and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The innovation addresses maternal physical and mental health and child health and development from pregnancy until two years after birth.
The EJOL intervention is a structured program combining perinatal stage-specific information, learning activities and social support. It comprises 20 sessions, in 19 accessible, facilitated groups for women at a community centre every two weeks from mid-pregnancy and every four weeks after childbirth until the end of the first postpartum year, and one home visit during the first postpartum week.
These twenty sessions, covering nine topics, are organised into five modules targeting perinatal essential knowledge and skills. In the first two modules, the program targets pregnant women and their husbands/ partners. From modules 3 to 5, the program targets the family unit as a whole including mothers, fathers and grandparents.
The program contributes to Vietnam's goals as a signatory to the Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development Framework and Care for Child Development are the two frameworks that are provided by both the WHO and UNICEF.
Click to read more about in - person model
The EJOL intervention is categorized into three modules with 20 sessions. Three modules are presented in the e-learning platform and parents are instructed to sign up and learn.
During the 18 months of learning online, parents and caregivers will be invited to visit commune health stations to join 3 sessions and practice pregnancy and childcare.
This hybrid model is suitable for rural and urban areas.
The online model targets families who could not arrange time to join any in-person practice session. Families will be invited to enrol into the e-learning platform and complete it. The online model is expected to deliver to industrial zone workers and busy parents in urban settings. Click here to read more about EJOL to industrial young workers
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The in-person EJOL model offers Training of Trainers course to provincial trainers. The facilitator training course is offered in e-learning platform as well for community-based health workers, kindergarten teachers and Women’s Union staff under the course “Care for children in the first 1000 days”.
The monitoring and evaluation package is also available and well designed by the project team. For the scaling up, the RTCCD team will train local teams on how to master M&E tools.
Click to read more about implementation mechanism including training and M&E.
EJOL has been packaged to be implemented in all 84 communes (in-person model) and 109 communes (hybrid model) of Ha Nam province. The Clustered randomized control trial implemented in 2018 – 2020 (in-person model) indicated that children in the intervention arm had on average, statistically significantly higher Cognitive, Motor and Language Development scores than those in the control arm. The Social-Emotional Development score was higher in the intervention than the control arm, but the difference did not reach statistical significance.
Key findings were published in the Lancet Global Child and Adolescent Health. The cost-effectiveness analysis was published in the Lancet Global Health.
Parents' behaviour changes were presented by HOME score. The HOME Inventory scores were significantly higher for the intervention than the control arms. Responsive care, learning materials, parental involvement and variety of activities, each a focus of the Learning Club innovation have been influenced positively.
In January 6, 2023, the Ministry of Health Vietnam approved the National Guideline on Early Childhood Development Examination and Counselling for Children 0-5 years, version for health workers. EJOL team lead the national guideline development and EJOL education package is referred as the learning source for parents, to be recommended by health workers nation-wide.
EJOL had social media channels - YouTube, Fanpage, and website - to support families and facilitators to address emerging concerns. New topics was made in video clips by national experts and posted on YouTube and shared with the EJOL Zalo club group.
All the materials to increase awareness of community people of the innovation activities such as 20 topics of EJOL sessions, recruitment posters and content for loud speaker communication were all available.
The EJOL name is also listed in the Ministry of Health's National Guideline on Early Childhood Assessment and Counseling as a reference which will be referred by doctors and nurses to parents during the child examination and assessment.