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New Vietnam case study highlights lessons learned around key partnerships with mobile network operators and electronic immunization registries

By Maya Rivera, Communications Officer, PATH

Oct 18, 2019

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Photo: PATH/Cuong Nguyen Phu. The IDEAL-Vietnam project works closely with the BID Initiative to provide global audiences with resources and guidance on every stage of EIR design, introduction, and scale up.

The Introducing Digital immunization information systems- Exchange And Learning (IDEAL-Vietnam) project is a PATH-led initiative working to explore and disseminate evidence and lessons learned from Vietnam’s implementation of the, Vietnam’s nationwide electronic immunization registry (EIR), to support successful implementation of EIRs in other countries.

The IDEAL-Vietnam project will serve as a comprehensive guide–consolidating a series of case studies and reports into a working library of resources–to inform, influence and accelerate the successful implementation of similar work on a global scale.

IDEAL-Vietnam recently released the project’s first case study, “Mobile network operator partnerships in action for health: A Vietnam case study on mobile network operator and ministry of health engagement for electronic immunization registry application.”

This case study explores the benefits and challenges Vietnam encountered when identifying, developing, and maintaining partnerships between the mobile network operator (MNO), Viettel, the Ministry of Health, and the PATH office in Vietnam. The case study will help other countries and organizations form realistic expectations when developing partnerships, and will help them to identify and compare their own challenges and successes with Vietnam’s perspective on key partnerships and the introduction of EIRs.

EIRs are not a siloed task. Key partnerships are vital to ensure that digital systems are built for scale, well-maintained, and sustainable in the future.  In Vietnam, the Ministry of Health’s decision to partner with the largest mobile network operator in the county, Viettel, provided adequate support and business infrastructure that enabled the technology to reach key populations at every level of the health system. The partnership with Viettel meant that the MNO could expand its business and scope of knowledge to the health field; build a foundation of trust with the Ministry of Health for future projects; and highlight their brand name with new technology and recognition.

The key partnerships in Vietnam formed by the Ministry of Health, PATH, and Viettel, have catalyzed a national-level immunization system, the NIIS. The NIIS has increased immunization coverage and on-time vaccination, while reducing the health worker burden of paper-based record keeping. Vietnam learned that in order to achieve these health breakthroughs, strong partnerships built on communication and trust with MNOs and governmental leaders are necessary.

Developing and maintaining partnerships does not come without its hurdles however. As the IDEAL-Vietnam case study highlights, it is important for countries pursuing EIRs to remember:

  • Be patient, there is a learning curve. Some partners will be experts in general health, vaccines, business management, and technology, but it is rare that partners will be experts in all areas. This is normal and understandable, but should be brought to light and addressed. Partners should work together and use strong communication and training to close these gaps and assign roles and deliverables.
  • Forming a technical working group with assigned roles and responsibilities that meets regularly can help to reduce confusion, improve, and maintain regular communication, and solidify relationships and trust.
  • Formal agreements between the partners should be planned well in advance. They should also be well-documented and revised as the EIR implementation advances and grows.

You can find both of these documents, other IDEAL-Vietnam project materials, and future case studies on the project’s new page on TechNet-21.

The IDEAL-Vietnam project works closely with the BID Initiative to provide global audiences with resources and guidance on every stage of EIR design, introduction, and scale up. These resources include a variety of regional, first-hand accounts about realistic goal setting, lessons learned, and recommendations. The IDEAL-Vietnam project hopes that by reviewing both BID documents and IDEAL-Vietnam documents, similarities and differences across regions can help to shape decisions and influence key planning for implementation of digital registries worldwide.

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