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Mr.Trịnh Đình Minh Việt (wearing blue T-shirt to the right) represents the Lighthouse in the Conference

From February 27th to March 3rd, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Viet Trinh (Health Program Coordinator – Lighthouse) participated and spoke at Country Operational Plan (COP) Meeting 2023 of The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This is an important event for strategizing country priority plans in national HIV response under PEPFAR’s funding for many countries, including Vietnam. Attending COP23 this year, Vietnam team consisted of leaders from Vietnam Authority of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) – Ministry of Health, multilateral partners such as U.S CDC, USAID, or UNAIDS, PEPFAR Vietnam team, and civil-led society representatives.

In country meetings, the Vietnam team succeeded in making great advancements with planning for national HIV/AIDS response under PEPFAR’s support for the 2024-2025 cycle. Related discussions continued and expanded topics previously presented at PEPFAR Stakeholder Meeting in Hanoi on February 8th. Country meetings drove conversations with diverse data sources including epidemic surveillance evidence by VAAC, programmatic data by PEPFAR Technical Team, strategic plans and priorities delivered by Global Fund, WHO, and UNAIDS, and community consultation data presented by civil-led society representatives. After this trip, the Vietnam team has from now until April 24th to submit a full proposal to PEPFAR Headquarter, with the aim of receiving final approval by February 28th.

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Moreover, at COP23, community representatives were empowered to speak up on various urgent issues crucial to ending AIDS by 2030. Complimentary with strong voices by the other 3 delegates, Viet Trinh spoke and raised the voices of key populations in 2 key plenary sessions. At the Youth panel, he reflected upon the needs and opportunity for meaningful participation and leadership of young key populations in the national HIV/AIDS control movement. Notably, in the commencement plenary session, Viet Trinh had the pleasure to co-present with Dr. Phan Thi Thu Huong (Head of VAAC – MoH) alongside other health politicians from many African countries. He particularly applauded the support by VAAC for the close partnership between the government and community-based organizations in national programs. He stated: “What you are witnessing is the impactful and effective partnership between the government and the community. It doesn’t have to be just a possibility but it can be… a reality”.

This is the second time Lighthouse Social Enterprise has had the privilege to nominate a delegate to participate in PEPFAR’s COP meeting. In 2018, our pioneering representative was Mr. Tung Doan (Executive Director – Lighthouse).

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