The voucher payment scheme was designed and implemented to encourage the most at risk population (MARPs) to use private sector services for examination and treatment of STIs and HIV/AIDS. The scheme was piloted for 9 months beginning in March 2009. Nine private clinics in four districts of An Giang partook in the pilot, which was carried out under a World Bank project with technical support from Pathfinder Vietnam. The service providers were given 4 different medicines for STI treatment according to the standard protocol, record books for registration, essential examination equipment such as speculums, and information, education and communication (IEC) materials including leaflets, posters about STIs.
The provincial center for AIDS and TB control (PATC) distributed the vouchers to MARPs through peer educator network. MARPs used the vouchers to receive free STI services, including counselling, examination and treatment. During a clinic visit, a client could receive examination and drugs according to the standard treatment protocol. Providers were also expected to provide counseling on any STI related issue, including HIV/AIDS and safe sex.
In general, most providers complied with the protocol and provided services with less stigma and discrimination to satisfy the Female Sex Worker clients. District health centers collected, checked used vouchers, made payments to providers, and report to PATC.
The pilot suggested that subsidies for MARPs to utilize needed health services in the private sector could be an effective strategy.