The Vietnam Family Planning Association (VINAFPA) plans to expand its services over the next five years to poor and remote areas, especially those inhabited by ethnic minority communities.

In a report released on November 24, the association said it has provided advice on reproductive health and family planning to nearly five million people over the last five years.

It has also delivered more than 3.5 million pamphlets and other information documents to residents, including adolescents and workers in industrial zones.

The model of providing pre-marriage consultancy and health-examinations was introduced in the northern port city of Hai Phong and the provinces of Nam Dinh and Nghe An. More than 500 couples in the three localities benefited from the service.

More than 10 reproductive health clinics were set up across the country.

Nguyen Ba Thuy, chairman of the association, said that the shortage of funds was a big challenge for several provinces and cities.

Without adequate funding, the localities would not be able to buy more medical equipment that they need to continue providing services, he said.

Another shortcoming that continued to affect the association's performance was the lack of co-ordination between different branches of the association and other local relevant organisations made it difficult to learn from each other's experiences and help each other.

Pham Ba Nhat, deputy chairman of the association, said that in the coming five years, the association's activities would be focused on residents in poor, remote areas in the central province of Quang Binh where the Van Kieu and Ruc ethnic minorities reside, and in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai, home to the Giay and Kho Mu ethnic minorities.

The association would strive to set up reproductive health clinics in all provinces and cities by 2019, he said, adding that they would be equipped with three-dimensional and four-dimensional ultrasound machines.

Training courses would be organised for volunteers and social workers to increase their effectiveness, Nhat said.

The association would also mobilise more support for its work from the State, localities and international agencies, he added.

The VINAFPA was founded in 1993. It is a member of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.-VNA