An interactive user-oriented online  database of external support to Viet Nam’s health sector

As a result of its rapid economic development, Viet Nam is experiencing demographic and epidemiologic changes, rising expectations of the health system’s performance, and changes in the level and modalities of development assistance. A number of donors/development partners (including INGOs) are withdrawing. Some development partners (DPs) are now discussing a shift away from financial support towards technical assistance; others are already replacing grants with loans. These changes are compounding the fragmentation and inefficiency that have come with a long-standing vertical/projectized approach to external support as well as weak coordination and harmonization between DPs, in support of national health policies, strategies and plans.

In the face of these challenges, the Ministry of Health (MoH) and its in-country health DPs have continued to demonstrate a strong commitment to development cooperation effectiveness through the forum of the Health Partnership Group (HPG) and by developing and endorsing the Viet Nam Health Partnership Document (VHPD) in 2013 as well as participating in the IHP+ monitoring exercise.

The VHPD seeks to operationalize the commitment of Viet Nam and its DPs to the principles of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. It emphasizes in particular, the need for harmonized financial and technical support that is closely aligned to government policies, strategies and plans – and the need for more strategic and better coordinated technical support. It sets out 10 milestones for joint implementation by the MoH and DPs towards, improved development cooperation. Milestone 9 describes the need for a web-based DP and INGO database for improved monitoring of development co-operation in the health sector. It reflects the strong commitment of Viet Nam and its DPs to making information on external support to the health sector easily accessible, usable and updateable.

Use of this database can facilitate an assessment of the following:

• Transparency – by providing an overall picture of health development cooperation in Viet Nam, in terms of thematic areas, geographic area, financial and technical contribution, funding modality etc. that will help with the prioritization and allocation of resources.

• Alignment – by providing an overview of the national health priorities supported by DPs (financial and technical); and the extent to which current DP support reinforces national health priorities.

• Harmonization – by providing information to assess complementarity and overlap in DP contributions; and linkages between development cooperation at central and decentralized levels.

• Complementarity – by providing information that will highlight gaps between health sector priorities and currently available external support (financial and/or technical); and how DP funding is complementary to government spending.

• Predictability – by providing information about DPs’ planned support in the short and medium term for proper planning; and for the monitoring trends in health development cooperation (changes in the level of funding for specific areas; changes in the number of DPs supporting the health sector; changes in the modalities of support etc.).

It can  be used to produce comprehensive electronic and hard-copy summaries of DP support, which can be generated according to different variables such as DP name, location of support, technical area of support etc. To the extent possible, it includes the financial contributions for DPs/INGO, disaggregated by variables such as those aforementioned.

In the collaborative spirit of the VHPD, this database has been developed on behalf of the HPG, by a consortium of experts representing the MoH (DPF and ICD), PACCOM, DPs (Pathfinder and WHO) and GaneshAID (a local not-for-profit consultancy firm).

The information contained in this database has been validated by the Government as well as DPs, and will be updated regularly.