Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Vietnam - Government not funding reproductive health drive
Lack of funding is stymieing a national campaign to reduce birth rates and improve population quality, a conference heard in HCM City on Friday. —VNS Photo Quang Châu.
HCM CITY— A shortage of funds has prevented many provinces and cities from achieving of helping disadvantaged people in areas with high birth rates access reproductive health and family planning services.
Đỗ Ngọc Tấn of the General Department of Population and Family Planning told a conference on reducing birth rates and improving population quality in HCM City on Friday that the Government has yet to provide funding for the campaign this year.
But 37 provinces and cities have provided a portion of the funding required from their own resources, he said.
“There are only intrauterine devices and contraceptive pills left in the department’s warehouses.
“The demand for contraceptive devices is very high and will increase in 2020-50 because the country will see an increase in the rate of women at child-bearing age.”
As of June most provinces and cities had achieved 40-60 per cent of their targets, he said.
Đinh Thái Hà, deputy head of the department’s planning and finance division, said the country’s birth rate increased by an estimated 9.9 per cent in the first half of this year.
The number of couples having a third baby has also seen an upward trend in the last five years, rising by 7.5 per cent in the year’s first half, he said.
The country has maintained replacement fertility, but there are variations based on location, he said.
Last year 13 provinces had low fertility rates of below 1.8, while 14 others had rates of 1.8-2.1, he said.
“Nineteen provinces had too high rates at more than 2.5, many of them in border areas. There are many poor people and ethnic minorities in these areas.”
There is a sex imbalance at birth in many places in the country, with the rural ratio being 1.5 times the national average, he said.
In the first quarter this year there were live births of 116,897 boys and 103,079 girls.
The sex ratio in the first six months is expected to rise to 113.4/100 from 112.8/100 in the same period last year.
Hà said the Government does not yet have the capacity to improve the quality of the population by expanding pre-natal and newborn screening of diseases and defects.
Đỗ Thị Quỳnh Hương, deputy head of the department’s population structure and quality division, said the programme for newborn screening looks for only two diseases in newborn babies while there is a great need to screen for many congenital diseases for early treatment.
The rate of babies and pregnant women getting prenatal and newborn screening in remote areas remains low, she said.
In the first three months this year 32,772 newborn babies were screened around the country.