Two hundred and twenty private clinics have joined the BlueStar Healthcare Network, the country's first social franchising model for reproductive healthcare and family planning, since its launch in Vietnam in 2008.

The non-profit organisation Marie Stopes International Vietnam (MSIVN), in cooperation with the Vietnam Centre for Reproductive Health, has set up the alliance in HCM City, Hanoi, and Hai Phong and Khanh Hoa, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and An Giang provinces.

It seeks to offer low-income people access to quality reproductive healthcare and family planning through existing private clinics, Nguyen Thi Bich Hang, country director of MSIVN, said.

It also seeks to increase utilisation of modern reproductive health and family planning methods to reduce unsafe abortions and improve access to preventive contraceptive methods.

The BlueStar providers receive training in areas like family planning knowledge, counselling, clinical skills, marketing, and business management.

The organisation also assists franchisees with improving infrastructure and monitoring the quality of services to ensure agreed standards are met.

Last year alone the network served nearly 400,000 people, providing family-planning services to 152,000 and abortions to 63,000 people.

It is expected to add a further 80 members this year./.