“For a long time, Viet Nam had remained on the receiving end of countless support and guidance from other countries and international partners. We are grateful, and now, it’s time to give back. By establishing the GHO, we aim to systematize our work in the global health arena and play a more active role in furthering global public health development,” said Associate Professor Nguyen Truong Son, Vice Minister of Health, during the inauguration of GHO.

Associate Professor Nguyen Truong Son, Vice Minister of Health, Viet Nam and Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, led the ribbon cutting ceremony during the opening of Viet Nam Global Health Office at the Ministry of Health.

Also present in the event were Dr Nguyen Manh Cuong, Director-General of ICD, leaders from various MOH departments, and WHO representatives, including Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific and Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative for Viet Nam. Dr Martin Taylor, Director, Division of Health Systems and Services, and Dr Tran Thi Giang Huong, Director, Division of Disease Control, both from the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, were also in attendance. Dr Tran was ICD Director-General when the plan to establish GHO started.

Dr Kasai commended Viet Nam’s establishment of GHO as one of the highlights of the country’s realization of its commitment to contributing to regional and global public health development, especially given the world’s current interconnectedness. “In recent years, we have witnessed how Viet Nam has taken important roles in the international development and security scenes, including in the area of public health. The country was a member of the WHO Executive Board from 2016 to 2019, and therefore, was instrumental in giving effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly. Viet Nam has come so far, and it is surely going further,” he remarked. Dr Kasai served as WHO Representative for Viet Nam from 2012 to 2014. He is currently in a three-day mission in the country to lead high-level dialogues on various public health issues, including health reform in Viet Nam.

“We have been witnessing the country’s transition of its role and position in global health – from a donor-supported health system to having a self-sufficient health system; from being the listener of others’ stories to being a teller of its own story. You have a lot of experience to share with the rest of the world – your transition towards domestic financing for health, your advancing of social health insurance, your universal health coverage journey, to name a few. We are excited to see a Viet Nam that guides our friends in other countries as they take on the same challenges. We look forward to seeing GHO at the centre of all these,” Dr Park said.

GHO will serve four functions: (1) coordinating all global and regional health matters across all government units within and beyond MOH; (2) advocating for and advising on global health policies, trends, issues, etc; (3) building the capacity of government staff members in regional and global representations; and (4) advancing research to build evidence base and support decision-making related to global health issues. WHO currently provides assistance as GHO develops its first two-year plan, as well as its longer-term vision.

Reported by Thu Nguyen