Ladies and gentlement,
On behalf of the Ministry of Health of Vietnam, I would like to extend my warmest welcome and best wishes to all the delegates and distinguished guests of the 9th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR) in Vietnam.
As you know, the rapid development of countries in the Asia-Pacific region has brought about practical economic and social benefits but at the same time it poses many challenges including uneven progress and injustice among and within nations. This has fostered inequities across the region and within countries, especially in the field of health including reproductive health (RH) care.
Thanks to the support over the years from the Government of Vietnam, RH care in Vietnam has attained remarkable achievements. Vietnam, as noted by the United Nations, is one of the few countries which have achieved significant progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly those which are related to the health of mothers and children.
Vietnam’s performance of the mother and child health indicators is better than many countries with the same level of per capita income. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined significantly from 233 in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2009. The United Nations estimates show that Vietnam’s MMR further declined to 56 per 100,000 live births in 2015. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)has also decreased significantly from 44.4 in 1990 to 14.9 per thousand in 2014. Under- five Mortality Rate (U5MR) also went down from 58 per cent in 1990 to 22.4 per thousand in 2014.
Despite these significant achievements, RH services in Vietnam still face many challenges and these are reflected in the differences in health status, MMR, IMR and U5MR between regions and among ethnic groups. Neonatal Mortality remains high in poorer regions and ethnic communities, accounting for about three fourths of deaths among children under one year of age. The reduction of MMR and IMR have shown signs of slowing down. The accessibility and quality of services in remote areas and ethnic minorities are still limited. Many RH elements have not received adequate attention such as reproductive tract cancers and infections particularly sexually transmitted infections (STI) including HIV and AIDS.
Premarital and unsafe sex practices among adolescents and youth are rising and these have led to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and STIs. The unmet need for contraception remains high, especially among specific population groups such remote areas’ ethnic groups, adolescents, and youth as well industrial zone workers. In the context of an ageing population, health care for the elderly has not received adequate attention and investment.
To sustain the MDGs gains and to attain the MCH targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 especially in mountainous and remote areas, among ethnic minorities and specific population groups, Vietnam’s health sector will focus on a number of population and RH themes:
- Continuing development of RH regulations and policies and implementation of good practices and replicable models which are responsive to the health challenges and needs of ethnic minorities, adolescents & youth, the ageing population, migrants and workers in industrial zones.
- Strengthening of health systems towards the achievement of universal health care and better access to RH services with priorities placed on vulnerable populations and disadvantaged areas.
- Investing in the expansion and improvement of the quality of adolescent and youth-friendly health services including the strengthening of comprehensive sexual and RH education and life skills in the school system, establishing the specific contraceptive program for the young/unmarried people.
During the 9th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR), we are happy to listen to and learn from the good SRHR practices of the participants from the different countries. I am interested to hear the opinions of representatives from government agencies, civil society organizations, regional RH networks, UN agencies and other development partners. Our ministry would utilize lessons, models, best practices from this regional conference to help solve Vietnam’s population and RH challenges.
Finally, on behalf of the Ministry of Health of Vietnam, I would like to express my gratitude to the Vietnam Public Health Association, experts and international organizations in and outside Vietnam for organizing the 9th APCRSHR. I wish you all good health and happiness. I have no doubt that this conference will be a great success.
Thank you very much./.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Kim Tien
Minister of Health
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam