Improving population quality and maintaining a reasonable birth rate to meet human resources demand for national development were the main topics of discussion at a seminar in northern Hung Yen province on August 13.

The topics are also the major orientations of the target programme on population and family planning in 2016-2020.

More than 200 representatives from the Health Ministry and population departments of 63 provinces and cities re-affirmed the importance of the population and family planning programme for the socio-economic development.

Birth reduction and high population quality will save spending on social services, reduce poverty and improve people’s living standards, especially mother’s health, and reduce the child mortality rate, thus easing burdens on the society, they said.

According to the General Department of Population and Family Planning, Vietnam is facing big population challenges in the transitional period from a high to low fertility rate and from a young to old population structure.

Two out of the country’s six main regions, namely the Central Highlands and the northern central-central coastal regions, have not yet reached a replacement birth level.

The country sees a high gender imbalance at birth, which tends to be increasing, as well as poor population quality, including lower stature and physical strength indicators than those of regional countries.

Participants also pointed out limitations in carrying out the programme, including poor investment, weak human resources, and asynchronous and slow implementation of activities.

In 2015, Vietnam’s population is forecast to reach 91.5 million, with a 0.2 percent reduction in population growth rate to 1.03 percent compared to 2013.

The rate of people using modern contraceptive methods is expected to rise from 27 percent last year to 71 percent in 2015, and the sex ratio at birth to be curbed at 114.5 boys to 100 girls.

The prenatal screening rate is hoped to be raised to 15 percent while the rate of newborn screening, up 30 percent.

In the 2016-2020, the country aims to reach a sex ratio at birth of 115 boys to 100 girls, increase the rate of elderly people with access to health care services to 50 percent, and maintaining a reasonable birth rate.-VNA