Operation ASHA - USA

Operation ASHA's vision is a world free of Tuberculosis. Operation ASHA USA has a mission to support bringing quality healthcare to the poorest people in developing countries. Operation ASHA, USA's board serves as a board of advisors to Operation Asha, India. They also hold events to raise money and awareness for tuberculosis projects around the world, and have supported Operation ASHA, India with grants related to ending tuberculosis in urban slums. Our Overarching Principles: Operation ASHA exists to serve its patients. Our all-encompassing philosophy is to improve the health of disadvantaged tuberculosis patients while at all times maintaining total transparency.
Jul 15, 2013

Latest update from Vietnam

The latest update from Vietnam brings good news: we’ve received our permit of operations. We’re excited that the opportunity to expand our model into Vietnam is getting closer to realization. Of course, it also means much more work ahead and our plans are being further developed and fine-tuned.

The ongoing support we have for entering Vietnam encourages us and we sense that we’ll hit the ground running rather soon. However, we’re at the stage where we wish to ensure our steps towards kicking off operations rest on a strong foundation. Our ties and the increasingly collaborative discussions we’re going through seem quite promising. We hope to soon make a difference by treating some of the most disadvantaged tuberculosis patients in the country.

Apr 2, 2013

Oh so close

Dr. Nguyen announces partnership on World TB Day
Dr. Nguyen announces partnership on World TB Day

There were some bad news this quarter and a lot of good developments, which I would like to share with you. As I’m a bad news first type of person, allow me to share that with you right off the bat. We still don’t have our project up and running and it doesn’t seem likely that we will be able to get the permit of operations this year. Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Well, let me try to assuage the negative impressions from this opening statement with a few good news.

Firstly, we have finally been able to meet the next level of stakeholders in Ho Chi Minh City, who would have a say about the execution of our project. Through a series of connections, I was able to connect with the retired deputy director of the department of health for Ho Chi Minh City, Dr. Le. This was a key connection for us as he in turn facilitated meetings with Dr. Nguyen, the deputy manager of the NTP and head of the Pham Ngoc Thach TB reference hospital for the entire southern region – through one short phone call no less – and the TB officer of the district in which we are planning to implement the first project. Furthermore, this gentleman has 40 years of experience in the Vietnam’s political and public health system and suggested we entertain a different route to make this project happen.

Based on his experience and opinion, Operation ASHA needs to have verifiable results and legal entities vouching for our work and our success. Without that, a permit of operations application is sure to get rejected or will take forever to push through the political red tape. However, without a permit of operations, one is not allowed to open bank accounts, hire staff and start operating in general. Joseph Heller would be proud of the catch-22 in which we have found ourselves.

It just so happens that Dr. Le is also president of a local NGO. He suggested that his NGO could serve as the implementing agency with Operation ASHA as the donor and technical agency. Meanwhile, the local NGO would contract with the government to source the necessary material, people and medication for the project. While this solution would limit the influence and freedom of Operation ASHA to operate independently, it would also serve as potentially great showcase of cross-border public-private partnership. Furthermore, with this type of collaboration, according to Dr. Le, we could have approval to implement the project within several months, anticipating a start in June or July instead of next year.

The engagement and support of all parties involved has been demonstrated last week at the event hosted by Pham Ngo Thach hospital in honor of World TB Day, during which both Dr. Le and Dr. Nguyen announced the upcoming partnership with Operation ASHA on public television. With this type of development and support, I hope you join me in my continuous cautious optimism. Thank you for your continued interest and support and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, should you have any questions. Make sure you also continue to spread awareness about TB and this project to your friends and family, especially in light of World TB Day.

Jan 2, 2013

Patience is a virtue

Oxford Uni. Clin. Res. Unit presentation audience
Oxford Uni. Clin. Res. Unit presentation audience

As so often in life, one has to be prepared to accept that things do not develop as well and as quickly as planned. The old adage saying that patience is a virtue particularly applies to this past quarter. Despite the progress we made during the previous quarter, which included the draft of a new memorandum of understanding with the Vietnamese government and the submission of our application for the permit of operations, over the past three months we had to face a few setbacks and delays, which we hope will sort themselves out in the first quarter of the new year.

The first setback is that we still have not received the permit from the Vietnamese government. As the government had just revised its laws on the presence of international NGOs in Vietnam in July 2012, the procedures and requirements had to undergo steady additional changes. As such, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued additional guidelines on the required documentation in November, according to which we were required to submit further documentation such as my official, notarized and consulate-legalized police record, which had not been required previously. Obtaining these documents naturally required more time and another round of document submission and review.

The good news is that several sources within the government had assured me that these additional documents requested will be the final step prior to the issuance of the permit in January or February. We will keep our fingers crossed in the hopes of providing you our first report of actual operations in the next progress report.

During the past quarter we also had the chance to work closely with the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV). The collaboration consisted of the development and submission of a large grant application to one of the major funding programs in the sector called TB Reach. While we worked hard for several weeks on the application and received strong feedback from several sources regarding our output, the application unfortunately was unsuccessful and funding was denied. However, the silver lining is that we were able to develop a strong working relationship with MCNV, which we will want to explore further in the future.

Lastly, during the last quarter I was also granted the opportunity to present our work and anticipated plans for Vietnam to the staff of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. To my pleasant surprise, the presentation was very well attended with almost 70 attendees. The meeting lasted 1.5 hours including an extended questions and answer session. Overall, the information presented was very well received and was met with universal support from the attendees.

I sincerely hope that 2013 will bring about the long anticipated start of our operations in Vietnam and the begin of cost-effective case detection and TB treatment for Vietnamese patients. I would also like to thank you for your ongoing interest and support. Please continue to spread the word to family and friends about TB and about our project. We appreciate any help or support you can provide in our continued battle against TB. In the meantime, I hope you had a peaceful holiday season and a happy start into the new year.

Oxford Uni. Clin. Res. Unit presentation
Oxford Uni. Clin. Res. Unit presentation