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VietNamNews

Gov't support for HIV/AIDS fight needed

Update: January, 31/2012 - 10:03

by Minh Thi

 

A young man learns about HIV/AIDS prevention. The Government needs to do more to help non-governmental organisations support victims of HIV/AIDS. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HA NOI — Social organisations do not receive sufficient support from the Government, especially in terms of finance, in the battle against HIV/AIDS, according to experts and activists in the field.

Nguyen Van Tien, deputy head of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs said the limitation of the Government's budget did not allow it to support civil social organisations in HIV/AIDS response.

Social organisations, therefore, were much more dependent upon the aid and assistance of foreign organisations to organise their activities and events, he said.

According to Vu Thi Phuong Lan, head of management at Sunflower Network, a community-based organisation of 13 self-help groups operating in seven cities and provinces to support HIV-positive women and their families, the network receives financial support from a sole sponsor - the Netherlands-Vietnam Medical Committee, an international non-governmental organisation.

Lan said health centres and red cross associations at the local level also helped by offering management advice as well as spaces to organise events, "but the main support the network receives is from the international organisation", she added.

The network now faces an uncertain future as the medical committee will withdraw its assistance in the next six months, leaving the network without any sponsor for its continued activities.

"We have asked other foreign organisations for financial support but failed," said Lan.

"At present, the management plan is to offer support services and collect fees to keep the network running, but the plan has yet to be made clear," she revealed.

The problem facing the Sunflower network became more common after Viet Nam officially was classified as a middle-income country, according to experts.

Tien said social organisations might become less active due to the decrease in funding.

The lack of financial support, however, is not the only obstacle for organisations delivering HIV prevention service and care.

Tran Tien Duc, former head of the health policy initiatives project under the United States Agency for International Development, said limited governance capacity, stability and accountability were common weaknesses that the organisations must overcome.

"Many community-based organisations lack sufficient organisational capacity and a strategic vision," added Tien.

He also said that there had not been a strategy or orientation plan made for the sustainable development of organisations.

Venerable Thich Dong Nguyen, deputy head of the Anti-HIV society under the Buddhism Academy, said religious involvement in HIV/AIDS prevention needed greater consistency and direction.

"There should be a co-ordinator who engages the religious society in HIV-AIDS activities."

Nguyen's opinion mirrored Tien's position. He said there must be a mechanism to control and co-ordinate the resources of civil organisations for HIV/AIDS response.

Tien said the Government's management over HIV/AIDS activities was not good enough and State-governed agencies were still hesitant to offer support to community-based organisations.

"Only those whose activities were funded by the Viet Nam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control were really under the Government's management."

Tien said there needed to be better co-operation between the Government and the civil society to ensure more effective HIV prevention.

Both Tien and Duc said there was a lack of a clear and consistent legal framework to encourage the establishment and operation of civil organisations, as the law for them had yet to be issued and requirements for their registration were still complicated.

Tien added that the Government should enact policies to support social organisations' activities, especially those in HIV/AIDS response, as the civil society played a key role in delivering care and support to people with HIV.

"Community-based organisations have helped the Government a lot by taking the initiatives to deal with many issues which the Government itself has failed to resolve because of its overwhelming workload". — VNS

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