Up to 38 per cent of women in northern Bac Kan Province give birth at home, raising fears over mother and child health safety.
Pac Nam, the province's poorest district, had the highest number of home births in the province, according to Nong Quoc Chi, director of the provincial Department of Health.
In districts such as Ngan Son, Bach Thong and Na Ry, the number came in at around 20 per cent, he noted.
"Giving birth at home without the assistance of health workers is very dangerous," Chi said, adding that either mother or child could haemorrhage or become infected.
Nong Van Dong, deputy director of the Pac Nam District Centre of Population and Family Planning, said that in the first half of this year 14 out of 36 women in the district gave birth at home.
Last year a total of 107 children were born in the district, only two of them at district medical clinics.
"While no casualties have been reported so far, giving birth at home has many latent dangers," he said.
Ly Thi Hoa, head of the provincial Centre for Reproductive Health's Mother and Child Care Department, said that the main problem was low education levels, especially in remote areas.
Moreover, medical workers did not disseminate knowledge on reproductive health to local women properly, she added.
On average, although there were around 5-7 pregnant women in each village per year, medical workers never visited their houses for consultancy or dissemination purposes in having the women get their health checked at medical centres.
Language differences between medical workers and ethnic minorities alongside downgraded roads have caused additional problems, Hoa said.
In many villages, residents have to travel 9-10km to reach medical clinics. Due to the lack of finances, most people could not afford proper prenatal check-ups or to give birth at the stations that themselves have too little funds to provide village health care.
Chi said that the key to improving the issue was raising awareness on reproductive health.
The department plans to work with district medical clinics to arrange experienced medical workers to act as disseminators to spread knowledge on reproduction health, especially among women, he said. — VNS