The National Action Programme for Children (NAPC) in the 2001-2010 period produced impressive results and the plan for the program in the next decade has been submitted to the Government for approval.
Vietnam has realised most of its goals for child healthcare and nutrition. The malnutrition underweight rate for children under five dropped to 17.5% in 2010, while infant mortality in 2011 also fell below the targeted figure.
Children under six and those from poor families and living in ethnic regions now all recieve free medical services. In 2011, almost 88% of children under six were covered by insurance and over 90% of children less than one year old were fully vaccinated.
All education targets set by the NAPC for 2001-2010 were realised ahead of schedule. Boarding schools have been provided for all ethnic pupils in mountainous provinces and the rate of children enrolled in school at all levels has risen steadily with each academic year.
Culture and entertainment for children has also improved greatly in Vietnam, with a large number of libraries and entertainment areas for children being built across the country.
A new approach to child care and protection has also been developed based on the specific needs of children and their fundamental rights. The authorities also pay attention to protecting children from social scourges, as well as ensuring their health and safety in the community.
However, Vietnam remains among the 16 countries with the highest rates of malnutrition in the world, while domestic violence, sexual abuse and child trafficking are still common occurrences. The high number of childhood accidents and injuries each year also continues to be alarming.
Over 7,000 children are killed in accidents every year in Vietnam, mainly by drowning and in traffic accidents. The percentage of children affected by HIV/AIDS has also risen significantly over the past years but has not received due attention.
Better child care and protection requires a better legal framework and more active participation by the relevant authorities, agencies and society.
Mass media communication to raise public awareness about child care and protection should be intensified and implemented immediately across the entire country. Such communication is practical for both adults as well as children, who should have a clear understanding of the risks so that they can avoid them and protect themselves from potential danger.
The authorities need to develop a system dedicated to managing childcare information and statistics system and, at the same time, enhance their capacity and expand the network of volunteers devoted to protecting and caring for children.
They also need to focus on creating more entertainment spaces for children and provide them with free assistance and consulting services. Such measures will help children acquire new skills and knowledge, which will contribute to their comprehensive development.