The Deputy Minister was speaking at a press conference held jointly by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFDA) Vietnam in Hanoi this morning in response to World Population Day (July 11).
To strengthen national commitments to achieve this Millennium Development Goal, particularly targets 5A and 5B on reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to RH services, Vietnam has issued a number of important policies and legal documents related to population and RH development, Tien said.
After ten years of implementing the Vietnam Population Strategy and the National RH Strategy for the 2001-2010 period, the country has made substantive progress in population and RH work, contributing significantly to national socio-economic development and improving maternal and child health, as well as enhancing gender equality and empowering women.
Statistics released at the conference show that decreasing fertility and replacement fertility rates remain steady while the quality of the population and RH have been improved by better maternal and child health.
Notably, maternal mortality dropped three times from 233/100,000 live births in 1990 to 69/100,000 in 2009. Infant mortality for children under one year old has been reduced by nearly two thirds from 44.4 per 1000 in 1990 to 16 per 1000 in 2008 and malnourishment among children under five years old decreased from 44.9% in 1994 to 17.5% in 2010.
The RH and family planning services network has been strengthened and developed at the local level; 98% of communes across the country have medical stations, 55.5% meet national healthcare standards, 93% of medical clinics have midwives and/or nurses, and 100% of hamlets have population workers or collaborators.
However, RH care still faces major challenges such as huge gaps in access to RH services among different groups and regions, and high rates of abortion, unexpected pregnancy, maternal mortality and STDs.
Addressing the conference, UNFDA Acting Chief Representative in Vietnam, Mandeep K. O’Brien, emphasised that universal access to RH services can prevent most maternal and infant deaths. She also stated the need to strengthen the healthcare system, improve the quality of family planning services, and enhance investment in developing human resources, especially medical staff and midwives in rural and remote areas.
With the youth accounting for almost one-third of its population, investment in RH care for young people will help facilitate sustainable socio-economic development in Vietnam, she added.
In addition to expressing the willingness of international organisations to assist Vietnam in achieving universal access to RH services by 2015, the UN official also called on the community to ensure that every pregnancy is expected, every birth is safe, and every child has opportunities to fully develop intellectually, physically, and spiritually.
On the occasion of 2012 World Population Day, the MoH and the UN in Vietnam pledged to translate political commitments into specific action to promote women’s empowerment and ensure universal access to reproductive health care in Vietnam by 2015.