Offices of the United Nations (UN) are always willing to assist Vietnam to build a positive policy environment, promoting the approach of crucial services on sexual and reproductive health in all cities and provinces nationwide.

The commitment was made by Mandeep K.O’Brien, Acting Chief Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFDA) at a press conference held in Hanoi on July 10 marking World Population Day (July 11).

The official acknowledged the achievements Vietnam recorded in the process of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) related to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare services.

Addressing the event, Nguyen Viet Tien, Deputy Minister of Health, affirmed that the Party and State have issued many guidelines and policies to speed up the work on population and reproductive health. After 10 years of implementing the Vietnam Population Strategy and National Strategy on Reproductive Health for 2001-2010, significant achievements have been made, measurably contributing to socio-economic development.

The country has made important steps in providing family planning services, safe motherhood and healthcare for newborns. The rate of maternity death has been reduced three times from 233 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2009.

According to Duong Quoc Trong, General Director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning, Vietnam used to be known as one of the countries having one of the highest abortion rates. However, in recent years, thanks to family planning and contraceptive methods, the rate has been brought down considerably. The abortion rate in women in age group 15-49 in 2000 was 1.3 percent, down to 0.6 percent in 2010.

However, it is still difficult for some population groups like juveniles, unmarried women, migrants, ethnic minorities and the elderly to access information and services on sexual and reproductive health. Unwanted pregnancies and abortion rates are still very high amongst young and unmarried individuals.

In Vietnam’s Population and Reproductive Health Strategy for 2011-2020 term approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in November 2011, safe motherhood continues to be a priority, with the aim to reduce maternity and newborn deaths, especially in ethnic minority and remote areas.

With the theme “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services”, this year’s World Population Day aims to strengthen commitments towards reproductive health for women. The day also acknowledges contributions of organisations and individuals in providing information and services for women to satisfy the MDG of achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015.-VNA