The Observatory

Making connections: Cambodia and Vietnam

Connect: a simple word, but a very valuable concept in the context of a three-country development project being delivered at multiple locations and with different priorities.

In Phnom Penh and Hanoi, two-day “Connect” workshops were held in August to bring together partners working on the East Asia Vision Program, a three-year program managed by Vision 2020 Australia, with funding from Australian Aid. With a focus on training and workforce development, the program works to build national government capacity to deliver comprehensive eye health services. The workshop reviewed successes and challenges from the first part of the program and partners also presented plans for the final year of the program.

IAPB member organisations, and Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium members, Brien Holden Vision Institute, CBM Australia, the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) work with local partners in Cambodia and Vietnam to deliver the program. Representatives from IAPB and the World Health Organisation (WHO) also attended the workshops, as well as partners from government agencies and universities in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Participants of the Cambodia Connect workshop

“Transition” was a focus of the workshop, with discussion on ways to ensure the delivery of program components are sustained after the program formally ends in February 2016. Integration with the health system, planning for transition, advocacy and efforts to increase local ownership were identified as critical.

Participants agreed that often transition of ownership is a process of adaptation rather than adoption, as services need to be adjusted to fit delivery systems within the government. Already some training initiatives in Vietnam are being delivered within state education institutes and have fee structures that will ensure sustainability after the end of the program.

Research in Ghana asked whether international health programmes could be sustained after the end of international funding and found that the activities more likely to be dropped were the ones that had the least observable effects, were the most complex and the least compatible with the mandate and financing system of the hospital. Lessons like these will be considered when planning for transition in Cambodia and Vietnam.

*This blog was originally published on the IAPB Western Pacific Region website and has been published here with full permission.