What is Country Ownership? Perspectives from Vietnam and Elsewhere


Perspectives on country ownership are quite varied—here are several additional expressions on what defines country ownership:

Ruth Kavuma, former Parliamentarian, Uganda, Chairperson of the Mama Alive Initiative (12/06/13):

Availability of contraceptives alone will not guarantee increased uptake in the developing world, but rather active country ownership of their family planning programs to bring about more political accountability, and the realization that family planning is a fundamental human right. Read more here: http://www.mamaalive.org/

Dr. Kesete-Birhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia (at the opening plenary of the 2013 International Conference on Family Planning):

Country ownership is the surest way to ensure countries chart their own courses and overcome their own challenges for development. Ownership reinforces commitment. The principles and actions for country ownership are neither new nor hard to understand. What is missing is donor commitment to country ownership. We urge all development partners to move forward to make country ownership a priority so achieving the MDG goals will become a reality, too. Read more.

Jim Rice: Project Director, Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project:

The concept of country ownership is multifaceted –true country ownership requires strength in several different factors: political leadership, institutional and community ownership, and mutual accountability including finance. Read more.

Sarah Johnson, Project Directors, USAID’s AIDSTAR-Two Project:

Country ownership is not a new concept. It is the first principle of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. What continues to pose a challenge is the lack of a common understanding about the practice of country ownership, including how to advance country ownership in general and how to achieve a “whole of society” approach that encompasses civil society, the private sector, and government. Read more.

Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, USAID (From USAID Impact Blog, September 15, 2010)

[Country ownership] primarily means the country owning and defining the set of priorities in terms of what they want to accomplish in the health sector. It will vary country by country and vary based on disease, and it will vary on different country governments and their prioritization of health problems. It’s fundamentally about saying in the last decade that there’s been this huge growth in global health, with a lot of the work being done by NGOs, contract partners, and foundations that sometimes operate outside the dialogue and engagement with the host country. If we are going to achieve progress at a higher level, and ensure that countries sustain these achievements, then we need to make this whole system of donor-supported global health activities fit within a country’s own set of aspirations for global health. We’ve now seen a lot of different models for countries to express their priorities. The ones I prefer are inclusive of civil society and other groups within those countries. Read more.










Outpatient clinic in An Giang province. Photo: MSH Staff

By Minh Pham, Project Director, Leadership, Management and Governance – Transition Support Project (LMG-TSP), Vietnam

Vietnam has made remarkable progress in prevention and control of the HIV and AIDS epidemic over the past decade with an emergency response and substantial financial resources from international donor community, but HIV and AIDS still remains a public health concern. During the course of the next five to ten years, it is critical for the Government of Vietnam, together with the donor community, private sector, and civil society organizations to develop and implement a transition roadmap that integrates the HIV/AIDS response into the country’s health system.  The goal is to maintain gains while increasing the coverage and quality of HIV and AIDS services as support from international partners moves from direct service delivery to technical assistance.

This is why country ownership is extremely important—and plays a critical role. In the end, it is the people of Vietnam who understand the local context, know how to best use available resources for health in the most effective and efficient way, and must take responsibility for the health and well-being of Vietnamese people, including individuals with HIV and AIDS.

The Leadership, Management and Governance – Transition Support Project (LMG-TSP), funded by PEPFAR through the USAID Mission in Vietnam, and with strong technical guidance and coordination across all USG agencies, supports country ownership by working closely with the Government of Vietnam (Vietnam’s Ministry of Health, Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control, Provincial Department of Health, and Provincial AIDS Centers) to provide tools that help engage relevant local stakeholders, international partners and donors in developing sustainable plans at the provincial level  for comprehensive HIV and AIDS programming.  Through its research and advocacy activities, the LMG-TSP is contributing to the creation of a favorable environment for the successful transition from donor support of services to a fully domestic funded HIV and AIDS program that harnesses technical support and assistance from donors but is led, owned, and managed by Vietnam.


More Reading on Country Ownership: Perspectives from Around the World

The Importance of Country Ownership: An Introduction

Country Ownership is a Three-Legged Stool

Participation of Civil Society is Essential to Country Ownership

Featured Organization: African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), Kampala, Uganda