New partnership aims to optimize development assistance for health

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health_jointHa Noi, 23 April 2009 - Last week the newly formed Health Partnership Group, led by the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam and including UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and UNAIDS as well as other development partners, held their first meeting and adopted a joint Statement of Intent to guide their work together. The Statement aims to make development assistance for health more efficient and effective, and contribute to the achievement of Viet Nam’s health development goals.


With a focus on improving access to quality health services for the poor and near poor, the Statement puts into action the principles of aid effectiveness, particularly those in the Hanoi Core Statement and the Accra Agenda for Action. The objective is to better harmonize financial and technical resources, align efforts behind Government plans and strategies, and make better use of existing Government systems.

“Moving from principles to practice will mean new ways of working for many of us, both partners and Government,” said Dr. Jean-Marc Olivé, WHO Representative in Viet Nam. “Change is rarely easy. But having a shared vision of where we want to get to is critical, and that is what the Statement of Intent provides.”

The agreement includes commitments in three main areas:
•    strengthening country ownership;
•    building more effective and inclusive partnerships for development; and
•    delivering and accounting for development results.

For example, under the agreement, the Ministry of Health will take the lead in developing and implementing Viet Nam’s national health plan for 2011-15, which will reflect new policy directions and emerging priorities. Development partners and the Ministry will work to ensure that technical assistance is demanded and coordinated. The Ministry will coordinate other relevant Government agencies and will finalize a multi-year expenditure framework, while donors will provide the Ministry with full information on their annual commitments and forward expenditure and implementation plans. The government and donors will jointly assess progress through Joint Annual Health Reviews.

Viet Nam’s Minister of Health  Nguyen Quoc Trieu affirmed the value of the partnership and the need for ongoing international assistance: “Support from the international community has covered many health fields and contributed to improvement of infrastructure, technical issues and quality of health services at different levels….[the] MOH would like to appeal to development partners for their continuing support for the health sector of Viet Nam, with a focus on two priorities: health policy and development investment.”

These priorities are reflected in a list of milestones included in the Statement, which identify the lead government agency, completion dates and proposed facilitating donor organizations.

UN organizations are working to support specific milestones, and stand ready to be involved in other milestones as requested. For example, as part of Milestone 1, WHO has completed a draft table of donor contributions to the health sector, available on the WHO website (http://www.wpro.who.int/vietnam). UN organizations are also working with other partners in support of the milestones related to the next five-year health sector plan and budget, including an event towards the end of April that will bring support and examples of international good practice to the Government of Viet Nam as it embarks on its next planning cycle.

The Health Partnership Group and the Statement of Intent should lead to greater harmonization and coherence in development assistance for health, and will complement the ongoing efforts of the UN in Viet Nam to be more effective and coherent under the “One UN Initiative”.