HA NOI An initiative to prevent early marriage and marriage between those having blood relations has been launched in 10 provinces of the country by the General Office for Population (GOFP).
The plan is expected to help improve the population quality in these areas.
"Early marriage and marriage between people with blood-relations is still popular in many mountainous and remote communities," said Dang Van Nghi, deputy director of the Population Department of GOFP.
Launched in early September, the plan aims to provide information about reproductive health to 90 per cent of the youth in these areas by 2010. The initiative will also offer health examinations to individuals who are planning to marry soon.
Under the plan, a project to carry out pre-marriage health check-ups will be launched in Ha Giang, Ha Tinh, Soc Trang, Hai Duong and Ha Nam provinces. Anyone considering marriage will be able to register for free health checks and consultation.
Another project aimed at reducing early marriage and blood-relations marriage will be conducted in Cao Bang, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Son La and Dak Lak provinces. These areas are home to the highest rates of both early marriages and marriages between relatives.
A survey carried out in 2004 reported that among the Dao ethnic group ,9.8 per cent of the women and 29.7 per cent of the men married early. The rate for the Mong ethnic group was 17.9 per cent for women and 20.3 per cent for men.
In both the E de and M nong ethnic minorities, marriage between people having blood relations continues to be a practised traditional custom. According to deputy director of Cao Bang s Health Department Hoang Ba Thuoc, it is deemed acceptable in both cultures for cousins to marry.
Early marriage and marriage between relatives can lead to health abnormalities and decreased genetic diversity within a population.
Children of these couples may have deformations or develop debilitating diseases such as colour-blindness, albinism or thalassemia.
"The new projects hope that the reproductive consultation and pre-marriage heath screenings will help limit such maladies from occurring. If any health problems are discovered, these couples can be sent to a hospital for proper treatment," said Nghi.
H Le Ne, a staff member at the Population and Family Planning Unit of Dak Lak Province, said that changing the customs might be as difficult as moving a mountain.
An assessment of the plan will be carried out when the project finishes at the end of next year. The results will hopefully provide an effective model to better future projects and improve the country s population quality, according to Duong Quoc Trong, acting director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning. VNS