Encompassing universal health coverage: the role of national health insurance in Viet Nam’s HIV response

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health insurance vietnam

“Everybody Counts”, the slogan for World AIDS Day 2017, emphasizes the importance of accessible and quality HIV care and treatment services for everyone. In the Western Pacific Region, much of the progress achieved in providing access to HIV services has been due to substantial financial assistance from global health initiatives.

One of biggest challenges to maintaining the universal health coverage principles within national HIV responses, however, is the recent decline in donor funding. In preparing for this, Viet Nam has begun reforming its national health system to increase government spending and is also leveraging health insurance to sustain HIV services.

WHO has been supporting the Ministry of Health in Viet Nam to restructure HIV treatment service delivery and increase health insurance enrolment among HIV-positive patients. In November 2016, the Prime Minister signed a policy to use health insurance funds to purchase antiretroviral medications for treating HIV infection. It also mobilizes provincial budgets to support people living with HIV in paying for their health insurance premiums and co-payments. Under the new policy, the Government aims to establish a long-term plan for transitioning the financing of HIV treatment services to government funding to address the substantial decline in donor funding.

Viet Nam aims by 2020 to enrol 100% of people living with HIV in the health insurance scheme and use national health insurance to cover antiretroviral medications for approximately 155 000 people.

“Use of health insurance funds for HIV care and treatment is critical to sustain the national HIV programme in Viet Nam"

Dr Nguyen Hoang Long, General Director of the Viet Nam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control

One year into the signing of the policy, health insurance coverage for HIV-positive patients has increased from 50% in 2016 to 82% in 2017, according to an assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health with support from WHO. Mobilizing health insurance funds for HIV services requires restructuring and integrating HIV service delivery into hospitals, whereas before they were administered outside of hospitals. Today, 73% of HIV outpatient clinics have contracted with national health insurance and 60% have received health insurance reimbursements for HIV treatment services including physician consultation fees and laboratory tests.

“Use of health insurance funds for HIV care and treatment is critical to sustain the national HIV programme in Viet Nam. The Government is making efforts for a smooth transition from internationally supported projects to domestic funding using the universal health coverage approach. Although there are challenges, Viet Nam has developed a road map and policies for the transition process and developed policies and mechanisms to ensure that HIV-positive patients receive antiretroviral medication without interruption”, said Dr Nguyen Hoang Long, General Director of the Viet Nam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control.

For more information, please contact

Ms. Tran Thi Loan
+84 (0) 4 38 500 100
Email: wpvnmmedia@who.int

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