The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee jointly held a ceremony on November 4 in Hanoi to announce the 2013 report on the state of world population.

Addressing the event, UNFPA Chief Representative in Vietnam Arthur Erken said Vietnam has entered the golden population period with a high ratio of young workers - nearly 40 percent of the country’s population is between 10 and 29 years old.

This is both a good opportunity for economic development and a challenge for the country in providing reproductive health care for the youth, he said.

Investment in health care for youngsters and adolescents will lay a firm basis for them to enter their adulthood, thus making contributions to sustainable socio-economic development in Vietnam , he added.

Erken called for further efforts in raising the reproductive healthcare service quality for disadvantaged groups and increasing knowledge, skills and attitude of the service suppliers to unmarried adolescents, so that Vietnam can fulfil its millennium development goals in all rural areas by 2015.

The report on the state of world population 2013, themed “Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy”, shows that girls under 15 account for 2 million of the 7.3 million births that occur in under-18 girls every year in developing countries.

The risk of maternal death for mothers under 15 in low- and middle-income countries is double that of older females, and this younger group faces 70,000 adolescent deaths annually from complications in pregnancy and childbirth, it said.

In Vietnam, despite achievements of the healthcare sector in reducing maternal fatality and increasing access to reproductive healthcare and family planning methods over the past decades, one third of adolescents still do not have access to contraception. This has led to a high ratio of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions among young girls, especially unmarried ones.

A pregnancy can have immediate and lasting consequences for a girl’s health, education and income-earning potential, the report said.

The health risks to the infants and children of adolescent mothers have been well documented. Stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50 percent higher among infants of adolescent mothers than among infants of mothers between the ages of 20 and 29, the report added.

On the occasion, UNFPA also called for governments and international development partners and relevant agencies to join hands in activities to help adolescent girls make their own responsible choices and receive necessary support when their rights are not well preserved.-VNA