The project closing workshop was organised on 15 December 2016 in Da Nang and attended by 16 representatives of the project management boards from Vinh Long, Tien Giang, and Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces. The workshop also welcomed the presence of Mrs. Trinh Nhu Quynh – the Head of Corporate Affairs as representative of the project donor – Standard Chartered Bank in Vietnam.
At the workshop, participants actively shared the project results achieved in each provinces over the last 4 years. A significant achievement that was shared was how the project strengthened the village and commune health worker system to facilitate identification and referral of eye patients. Investments in training improved the capacity of district eye health staff to provide quality support to the screening and outreach activities. Access to eye care treatment services was increased with more reliable service quality. Moreover, the advancement of service delivery capacity was also recognised, especially considering the eye unit of Vinh Long SDPC being upgraded to a provincial eye hospital in January 2017 as undirected impact from the project.
Challenges facing efforts to maintain project results were also discussed and identified such as the time consuming process to frame eye care service structures in Dak Nong and Lam Dong provinces when the latest policy requires development of either a center for diseases control (CDC) or an eye hospital. The full impact of the project’s RE has not yet been realised as the quality of non-subsidised spectacles still depends on private spectacles workshops, which lack adequate quality oversight by the relevant health authorities. The Foundation’s advocacy efforts aim to address these challenges. Provincial authorities are demonstrating their increased commitment to blindness prevention, e.g. provincial PBLs were prepared and approved, contract with Health insurance fund for eye disease treatment has been negotiated to be signed and the qualify optical workshops have been set up. The Foundation’s Vietnam projects, ‘Better Quality for Eye Care Project’ and ‘Better Eyes For Better Education Project’, advocate with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Training to improve the quality of cataract surgery, spectacles, and school eye health integration into the existing school health program, and the coverage of Health Insurance. This will support the long term sustainability of this Seeing Is Believing Phase V project’s achievements.
In sum, after 4 years (2013 – 2016), SiB phase V project has made most significant changes at each of the project province as follows:
- In Tien Giang: Tien Giang Eye Hospital successfully set up and effectively ran a spectacles shop, the return of which is reinvested for community eye health. The 5-year provincial PBL has also been approved;
- In Vinh Long: The Eye unit of Vinh Long SDPC is being upgraded to a provincial eye hospital as of 2017 as an indirect impact from the project;
- In Lam Dong: The 5-year provincial PBL Plan of Lam Dong has been approved with strong commitments in funding from the provincial authorities as the result after many project meeting between FHF, project partners and other local stakeholder on discussion of this;
- In Dak Nong: The project established operation theatre run by the eye unit of Dak Nong SDPC has been approved for operations since September 2016.
All of the above achievements reinforces the belief that the project impacts will be maintained in the future.
Dang Vu Bao
The Fred Hollows Foundation Vietnam