It is necessary to strengthen the use of research-based evidence to develop health policies and programmes, especially for sexual and reproductive health.

Experts agreed on this at the second national conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health held in Hanoi on November 11 by the Ministry of Health, the Hanoi School of Public Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said that strengthening scientific research would help maintain the fertility rate at replacement level and reduce the imbalanced sex ratio.

He also said this type of research could help cut maternal, child and abortion death rates and improve sexual and reproductive health care services for young people.

Luu Thi Hong, Director of the health ministry's Department of Mother-Child Health, said there were disparities in death and sickness rates between various regions and population groups, especially among ethnic groups.

Inequalities and disparities in access to quality reproductive health care were observed among women in various regions in Vietnam, she said.

She added that Vietnam also did not have a reliable sexual and reproductive health database on adolescents and young people.

This led to limitations in the development of policies on sexual reproductive health.

"Research-based evidence in different regions and among different vulnerable groups would help provide enough information to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people," said Hong.

Arthur Erken, UNFPA representative in Vietnam said that Vietnam was a largely rural country with more than 90 million inhabitants from 54 different ethnic groups. "One-size-fits-all policies do not work and we should make sure that the different needs of all individuals related to sexual reproductive health should be taken into account," he said.-VNA