The improvement of population quality is one of the major tasks set out in Vietnam’s Population Strategy through 2020, demographer Duong Quoc Trong said at a press conference in Hanoi, on August 20.

According to Trong, Acting General Director of the General Department of Population and Family Planning, population quality issues are essential to developing human resources for the course of national modernisation and industrialisation. Although the country has succeeded in reducing the number of new births and curbing population growth, the quality of Vietnam ’s population has not stabilized.

According to the statistics by the General Department, the rate of mental and physical insufficiency in the population is 1.5 percent. The number of children suffering congenital deformities accounts for from 1.5 to 3 percent, and the figure is showing signs of increase. Meanwhile, 6.3 percent of the population is categorized as disabled.

The average lifespan of Vietnamese surged to 72.2 years in 2005, from 68.5 years in 2000. However, when it comes to the average age until which the population maintains ‘good health,’ Vietnam still ranks 116 among 174 countries and territories in the world, at 60.2 years old.

The physical strength of Vietnamese remains a limitation as compared with other regional countries—the population still lags in terms of height, weight and physical endurance. The rate of malnutrition for children under five is still high in remote areas.

Trong said that in the coming time, it is necessary to carry out simultaneously measures, including research and testing on the early treatment of diseases related to congenital malformation, and pre-marriage health check-ups.

Further efforts should be made to prevent epidemics, cut the new infection rates of some dangerous diseases, implement reproductive health care including expanded vaccinations, support the introduction of iodized salt, and ensure clean water and a hygienic environment for ethnic minority people.

In a bid to improve the population quality, the Central Obstetrics Hospital has deployed a programme on prenatal screening in 12 northern provinces to cut the rate of children with congenital deformities to below 1.5 percent by 2020./.