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Vietnam civil society partnership platform of civil society - An innovative approach for improved accountability and effectiveness of the national response to HIV/AIDS

O. Khuat, Vietnam Civil Society Partnership Platform on HIV/AIDS

Institute for Social Development Studies, Social Health and Development, Hanoi, Viet Nam

Issues: Civil society (CS) is growing rapidly in Vietnam but its participation in the HIV/AIDS response is rather new, opportunistic and fragmented. The national program is developed, implemented and monitored by the government. No space had ever been created for the meaningful participation of CS in the program.
Description: Bright Future Network of people living with HIV, Institute for Social Development Studies - a local NGO, with technical support from Health & Development Networks, founded Vietnam Civil Society Partnership Platform on HIV/AIDS (VCSPA) - a mechanism to support CS participation in the national response. VCSPA is a space for CS members to share information, express opinions, and build capacity for unified action. The Platform Congress elects Platform Coordinating Committee and approves strategic plan.
Founded in October 2007, by January 2008 VCSPA had 54 members from NGOs, self-help and community groups, and vulnerable populations. The 2008 UNGASS country report is the first activity VCSPA coordinated. Representatives from 100 CS organizations participated in 2 regional workshops discussing the country’s report. A task-force gave concrete comments and inputs to the draft report and participated in the national consensus workshop. It is the first time CS participated in the UNGASS report review in a constructive and cohesive body. A significant CS input, included improved CS participation through making funding accessible and involving CS in policy and program development, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, was incorporated into the report. The report also acknowledged the establishment of VCSPA.
Lessons learned: VCSPA is an effective mechanism to unite CS for an effective national response. The Platform’s guiding principles include transparency, equality and commitment.
Next steps: VCSPA will focus on 3 priority areas identified by partners: increase CS participation, harm reduction and access to treatment. Key activities include membership development, capacity building, advocacy and monitoring on priority areas.

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