Newborn babies at the Children Hospital No. 2 in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s family planning has contributed greatly to the country’s hunger elimination and poverty reduction, fostering its socio-economic development, improving living conditions of local people and helping to fulfill the millennium and sustainable development goals, said a local official.

Deputy Minister of Health Pham Le Tuan delivered the remarks at a meeting co-organised in Hanoi on July 11 by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam to celebrate World Population Day 2018.

Vietnam’s family planning has helped the country cut costs of social services and increase per capita gross domestic product (GDP) by 2 percent annually, Tuan said.

He affirmed that the country’s population and family planning programme has gained a range of achievements as its annual population growth rate dropped from 2 percent in 1993 to around 1 percent in 2016.

According to the deputy minister, the average number of children of a coupe in the child-bearing age fell from 5.6 in the early 1960s to 2.09 in 2006, reaching the replacement fertility rate that has been maintained over the past decade. The rate of couples using birth control methods soared from 53.7 percent in 1993 to 77.6 percent in 2016.

Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, said this year’s World Population Day has the theme of “Family Planning is a Human Right”, aiming to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations International Conference on Human Rights which took place in Tehran in 1968.

At the conference, the world declared that “parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children,” she said, stressing that this was the first time that family planning had expressly been described in this way. 

Investments in family planning today are investments in the health and well-being of millions of girls, women and young persons for generations to come, the UNFPA official noted.

Bant said UNFPA has embarked on a new Strategic Plan which supports the 2030 Agenda and strengthens its commitment to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action. 

The Strategic Plan covers a lot of issues, but they can be broadly summarized under three Transformational Results for the region and the world: Zero maternal deaths; Zero unmet need for family planning; and Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

At the meeting, speakers, including officials of the General Office for Population Family Planning, UNFPA in Asia and the Pacific, UNFPA in Vietnam and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), talked about family planning in Vietnam.

They also exchanged views on the communications work to provide information about reproductive and sexual health in Vietnam and Asia-Pacific. They pointed out a number of challenges facing Vietnam’s family planning, such as high demand for modern birth control methods among unmarried youths and the lack of a comprehensive and effective sexual education programme.-VNA