Follow us on: 

Speaking points of Dr. Kristan Schoultz, UNAIDS Viet Nam Country Director at the Dissemination and Planning for Implementation of Viet Nam’s HIV Investment Case

Print Email


Date:    Friday 15th August 2014
Event:    Dissemination and Planning for Implementation of Viet Nam’s HIV Investment Case
Venue:    Do Son, Hai Phong City  

Mr. Dang Thuan Phong, Vice Chairperson of the National Assembly Social Affairs Committee and Chair of the sub-committee on AIDS, Drugs and Sex Work,

Members of the National Assembly,

Dr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Director General of the Viet Nam Administration for AIDS Control,

Leaders of Northern provinces and cities,

Colleagues and friends,

Good morning:

First, I would like to share with you all how excited I am to be here. Today, we will explore innovations put forward by the Viet Nam Administration for AIDS Control to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the national response to HIV. And we are having this important discussion in Hai Phong, a city which is well-known for its many excellent initiatives in response to the epidemic. Such a wonderful host for our discussion!  

We are all aware of the many impressive achievements of Viet Nam’s response to HIV. Viet Nam’s leadership has shown high levels of commitment, and there is a strong and impressive legal and policy framework. About 86,000 people living with HIV have been put on life-saving antiretroviral treatment; nearly 18,000 people who inject drugs have received methadone maintenance therapy to reduce their dependence on drug injection, thus reducing their risk of HIV infection; and new initiatives are being explored to improve key populations’ access to clean needle and syringes, condoms and HIV testing.

However, we also know that the “due date” for the Millennium Development Goals—the year 2015--is right around the corner. Viet Nam has been enormously successful with most of the MDGs, but is not on track to achieve Goal 6 on HIV and AIDS. In addition, we know that external financing for HIV is dwindling, and domestic resources have not yet been increased to fill the gap left by donors.

Clearly, we are at a critical moment in Viet Nam’s response to the epidemic. The impressive achievements made over the past 25 years are now seriously threatened because of the uncertainty around funding.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is now time to switch gears. I am not being dramatic when I say that if we don’t take action now, we could see a rapid resurgence of the epidemic among Viet Nam’s most vulnerable populations.

On the other hand, this is also a moment of real opportunity. A moment for Viet Nam leaders to take critical decisions to secure the sustainability of the HIV response and set the country on course to end AIDS by 2030.

UNAIDS and other international partners commend Viet Nam for the development of the “Project to Ensure Financial Sustainability of the National HIV Programme by 2020”. This Project has been approved by the Prime Minister and represents the strong determination of the Government of Viet Nam to address the sustainability challenge. Now we must collectively turn that Project into reality.

The international community is also very much encouraged to see the VAAC taking strong leadership in this effort, and making the best use of existing global knowledge and innovations to shape a more sustainable response. One of these global innovations is the investment approach to HIV, which was designed to support leaders in their decisions about resource allocation by identifying what works in a particular country context, and by providing an indication of where efficiencies can be generated.
In a few minutes, we will hear more about this new approach, and about the breakthrough initiative led by the VAAC for the development of an Investment Case for HIV in Viet Nam. For now, I just want to say that the Investment Case clearly shows that sooner or later Viet Nam will have to increase funding for HIV. If Viet Nam invests now, and invests wisely, more HIV infections will be averted, more lives will be saved, investment for HIV will be more cost-effective, and Viet Nam will be on track to End AIDS by 2030.

International partners in the national HIV response are looking to the leaders of Viet Nam for critical decisions to put the HIV Investment Case in motion and to use it to increase effectiveness, efficiencies and the overall sustainability of the national response.

Here I would like to particularly highlight the important role of provincial leadership in successfully rolling out the Investment Case. Provinces with strong leadership, such as the leadership here in Hai Phong, will immediately recognize the opportunities of the Investment Case to optimize the provincial responses to the epidemic. This can be achieved, for example, by increasing the local budget allocations for those interventions that are known to be most effective, limiting those interventions that have little impact, and working more closely with civil society to improve HIV prevention service coverage as well as distribution of information and commodities.

The international community has confidence that Viet Nam will make bold decisions and wise choices that are informed by the country’s Investment Case, in order to achieve the national goals on HIV by 2020 and the global vision of “Ending AIDS by 2030”. We are committed to continue supporting Viet Nam in this vitally important effort.

Once again, I thank you for your invitation to be with you today, and I very much look forward to a fruitful discussion.

Thank you and chuc suc khoe.