Young Vietnamese people need a better understanding of sexual health and
their rights in order to ensure safer sex and a higher quality of life,
national and international experts said at a recent meeting in Hanoi
Linette Belo, representative from Dutch
organisation Rutgers WPF, said that access to youth friendly services
and comprehensive sex education contributes a great deal to the sexual
and reproductive health of young people.
already has policies to improve young people's reproductive health,
especially for vulnerable groups such as people living with HIV/AIDS,
people with disabilities and emigrants, said Le Quang Binh, director of
Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment.
"Yet people still find it hard to access sexual health information, education and services," he said.
The average age of sexual intercourse among Vietnamese youth is higher
than the world's average, but the country sees a higher rate of
sex-related problems including sexual violence and issues of mental
health, he added.
For example, in 2006, abortion in Vietnam hit 35 percent, 9 percent higher than the world's figure.
A representative from Hanoi 's Health Department, Dieu Hien, said
that because of long-lasting norms and misguided understanding, the
majority of Vietnamese still hesitate to talk about sex, considering it
personal business, which poses communication challenges.
Even parents are not willing to talk to their children about it, she said.
Yet progress is evident when comparing norms to 20 years ago, when a
topic like condoms was still taboo, according to Hoa Huu Van, deputy
head of Family Department under Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
"Open and respectful discussions of sexual matters
could encourage healthy attitudes surrounding sexuality and positive
relationships," according to Binh.
now designing a project on pre-marriage education that is expected to
pave the way to the success of Vietnam 's family strategy for
The six NGOs including Rutgers WPF,
Institute for Development and Community Health, Institute for Studies of
Society, Economic and Environment, Research Centre for Gender, Family
and Environment in Development, Centre for Creative Initiatives in
Health and Pop, Research Centre for Family Health and Community
Development have joined together to form a sexual health alliance to
create the space of more discussion and a better understanding of sex
The organisations jointly celebrated
the World Sexual Health Day (September 4) for the first time in
Vietnam , focusing on the voices of young people regarding their sexual
health and rights.
About 6,000 young people each
day around the world are newly infected with HIV/AIDS, 45 percent of
whom are under the age of 24. Pregnancy and birth related problems are
the main causes of death for young people in age group of 15-19. Full
access to contraceptives can prevent unwanted pregnancies, unsafe
abortions and maternal deaths. /.