On July 6-7 2017, the Sunflower Groups supported by MCNV organized a workshop on Social Health Insurance for People living with HIV. In the workshop, representatives of nine Sunflower Groups in Cao Bang, Yen Bai, Thai Nguyen, Dien Bien and Quang Ninh had the chance to gain knowledge on Health Insurance. Participating in the workshop, Mr. Phan Van Toan, Deputy Director of Health Insurance Department – Ministry of Health presented the overview of social health insurance for people living with HIV, and shared circulars and decrees related to insurance card purchase and usage and other relevant services.

Laws and legal documents to support people living with HIV were presented with forms of questions and practical cases, hence participants could understand them better. The workshop discussed of real life issues, helped people especially women living with HIV to understand health insurance and know how and where to seek support once health issues occurred.

After the workshop, Sunflower Groups planned to design a manual handbook to distribute to each member in project provinces. Furthermore, to help Sunflower Groups members know more about Social Health Insurance, training and sharing sessions will be conducted for other group members in community. These sharing sessions and the manual are expected to help women living with HIV to access ARV and other services in community.

At present, Sunflower Groups members neither have much knowledge about the right to access health clinics for health check, nor understand about medicine, ARV, opportunistic infection drugs, health examinations, medical routes and referrals. In the future, members will have to pay part of medicine and health examinations. People do not know how much your card will be paid, though they do not have the exact amount they will have to pay.

A group leader said “If I had not taken part in this workshop, I would have not understood how much the Insurance Firm pays for me, or who I should contact when I cope with some health problems. Now both I and other members know well all our rights and benefits. The important thing is when going back, we can communicate to other members in our groups. This is very important for members at grass-root level.”

The workshop was organized while medicine for people living with HIV (ARV) was supported 100% by the Global Fund and the PEPFAR project, but soon this fund will be cut down. Expected that since Jan 1 2018, the Insurance will pay for ARV as well as opportunistic infection treatments and medical checkups for people living with HIV when there is no other support source is available. The participation in Health Insurance becomes significant to people living with HIV. Because many of them are ones living in poverty, they really need support from both donors and the government to purchase health insurance. This will help reduce the risk of HIV infection to community, and reflect the humanitarian spirit of society.