MoH eyes stronger private-sector engagement in nation's HIV/AIDS fight

October, 25/2022 - 08:11
The Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through its supported project, PATH STEPS, has outlined a road map for Việt Nam’s first-ever HIV private-sector engagement plan.

 

The Ministry of Health and the US Agency for International Development have rolled out a new plan to strengthen private-sector engagement in the nation's HIV/AIDS fight. — Photo courtesy of USAID

HCM CITY — The Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through its supported project, PATH STEPS, has outlined a road map for Việt Nam’s first-ever HIV private-sector engagement plan.

A workshop has been held to outline ways forward to implement the plan, and reflect on the trailblazing role that the private sector has played in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS in the country.

Phan Thị Thu Hương, director of VAAC, said VAAC recognises the important role of the private sector in the national HIV programme over the years.

This is exemplified by the National Strategy for Ending AIDS by 2030 of the Prime Minister and the Revised Law on HIV/AIDS of the National Assembly.

“They promulgate regulations and solutions for diversifying HIV financing, increasing private sector engagement and investment in HIV, and expanding provision of services such as HIV testing, PrEP, and nPEP (non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis) as part of the HIV response,” she said.

Over the past decade, the private sector, including local social enterprises, multinational life sciences and pharmaceutical companies, and multimedia groups, have played a pivotal role in increasing access to affordable HIV products and services among communities in HIV at-risk groups.

These communities include men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, and their partners and families, young people and those working in industrial zones.

Private-sector HIV health services have increased as there are now more than 20 private clinics that offer HIV and integrated primary health care services in urban areas in the country.

Approximately 50 per cent of individuals in the country who use oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) services are enrolled at private-sector clinics.

Private-sector entities have also been key for innovation, enabling the introduction and scale-up of new products such as HIV self-testing and locally manufactured condoms, and have driven the design and implementation of transformative HIV communication approaches, game-changing digital health systems, and diverse service delivery models that effectively engage and serve key populations at highest risk of HIV.

External donor funding for HIV prevention and treatment in Việt Nam has decreased markedly since the early 2010s, and this trend is expected to continue over the coming period.

With the country’s burgeoning economy and the private sector’s increasing interest in having a greater impact through their businesses, private-sector entities are well-placed to play an even greater role in the HIV market and enhance the sustainability of lifesaving HIV prevention and treatment, and primary health care services.

VAAC presented its new plan for HIV private-sector engagement and investment for 2021-25 and discussed working mechanisms for implementing the plan and advancing strong public-private coordination over the next four years.

This plan is the country’s first comprehensive guidance to direct the engagement of private-sector entities in the HIV programme in support of the Vietnamese Government’s Strategy for Ending AIDS by 2030.

It provides key metrics and a pathway toward facilitating and measuring this engagement and investment.

Randolph Augustin, director of the Office of Health at USAID Việt Nam, said USAID is committed to working closely with government counterparts to leverage the private sector’s expertise, resources, and investment to address development challenges and achieve greater impact and scale.

“We look forward to supporting key provinces with technical assistance to operationalise this plan and secure greater investment and support from private sector entities,” Randolph said.

USAID/PATH STEPS, a five-year project funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS ReliefFund (PEPFAR), aims to catalyze greater HIV- and primary health care–related market growth.

It will work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Health to put the private-sector engagement plan into action at national and subnational levels.

STEPS forges strategic partnerships with all sectors involved in the supply chain to encourage optimal pricing and product choice, placement, and promotion. — VNS

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