Improving the health of women, adolescents and children was the topic of discussion during a side event to the IPU-132nd Assembly, of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU-132) on March 31 in Hanoi.

Delegates at the session heard three presentations on the updated Global Strategy for women, adolescent and children health (Strategy 2.0); how the Global Strategy will be updated to be in line with the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and promoting dialogues among parliamentarians to foster development of the initiative.

Most IPU-132 delegates pointed to the persistently elevated rate of maternal and child mortality, as well as of unplanned pregnancy and abortion in several countries and regions, attributed these to a lack of financial resources and education and cultural barriers.

Senior Official from the United Nations Secretary-General Office Taona Kuo highlighted new opportunities for integration and action in women, adolescent and children health in the transition period from Millennium Development Goals to SDGs and suggested governments include human-oriented specific health targets in the set SDG criteria.

Dr Marteen Temmermen, Director of Reproductive Health and Research for the WHO, called for the end of preventable maternal and child mortality, especially within the first 24 hours post-delivery.

According to Temmermen, additional efforts should be made by governments, parliaments, organisations and individuals to prevent unplanned pregnancy and adolescent abortion, provide early healthcare for children and improve nutrition for women and children.

He also shed light on the role of parliamentarians in ensuring maternal and child health by participating actively in the SDG agenda development, reviewing relevant resolutions of IPU and boosting their implementation.

Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs Nguyen Van Tien shared Vietnam’s achievements two years post implementing the IPU resolution on access to health care as a basic right.

Vietnam has achieved a majority of the 46 IPU criteria, including issuing the Smoking Law and amending the Law on Health Insurance towards the coverage of at least 80 percent of the population, Tien said.

Additionally, the country has made concrete efforts to minimise maternal and child mortality by ensuring 80 percent of villages and communes have midwifery services and all children below six years of age receive free vaccines, he added.

He emphasised the need to increase health insurance coverage, enhance education for adolescents in the context of booming information and early child development, and manage pharmaceutical prices.

The Vietnamese delegate also highlighted the role of parliamentarians in making social policies; allocating financial resources for social issues; and ensuring the transparency of relevant programmes, projects and strategies by strengthening their supervision and monitoring.

Others delegates suggested nations foster connections among parliaments and communities in protecting people’s health while ensuring access to social services for all, especially healthcare.

They also called on developed countries to support developing nations in building human resource capacity, healthcare services and finance management, among others.-VNA