In the News

10 July 2012

World Population Day: Unversal Access to Reproductive Health Services

HA NOI, 10 July 2012 – At a press conference organized today in Ha Noi to commemorate the 2012 World Population Day (WPD), the Ministry of Health and the United Nations (UN) in Viet Nam called for increased efforts to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with a specific focus on MDG5 on “Achieving Universal Access to Reproductive Health by 2015”.

Ensuring universal access to reproductive health services is key to protecting the health of young people, women, mothers and their babies. © UNFPA Việt NamHà Giang 2010Đoàn Bảo Châu

Ensuring access to reproductive health care protects the health of young people, women and their babies

Reproductive health problems remain the leading cause of ill health and death for women of childbearing age worldwide. Some 222 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning. Nearly 800 women die every day in the process of giving life. About 1.8 billion young people are entering their reproductive years, often without the knowledge, skills and services they need to protect themselves.

On the occasion of this year's WPD, the UN Secretary-General has urged that: "We must mainstream reproductive health and rights into all development and poverty reduction plans. Investing in universal access to reproductive health is a crucial investment in healthy societies and a more sustainable future".

This year's theme is a special call to re-energize political and financial commitments towards universal access to reproductive health, as well as to recognize those who provide information, services and supplies.

It is also special as on Wednesday, 11 July, the London Summit on Family Planning will launch an unprecedented initiative to meet the need for modern family planning in developing countries. The initiative will be co-hosted by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The aim is to mobilize the political will and extra resources needed to give 120 million more women access to family planning by 2020. UNFPA is working together with other partners to call on governments around the world to commit more resources to the critical issue of voluntary family planning.

According to the Ministry of Health and other population based surveys, Viet Nam has made substantial progress toward increasing coverage of family planning, safe motherhood and newborn health services. However, certain population groups, such as adolescents, young and unmarried people, migrants and ethnic minority people, have limited access to sexual and reproductive health services. As a result, a significant number of pregnancies are unexpected, leading to high abortion rates, especially among the young and unmarried. Recent analysis of data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey undertaken by GSO suggests more than 10 per cent of young people have “unmet needs” for sexual and reproductive health services. 

Furthermore, many maternal deaths occur in mountainous and hard-to-reach areas and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) continue to be a challenge, indicating that more prevention efforts are needed.

Ms. Mandeep K. O'Brien, UNFPA Representative a.i. in Viet Nam speaks at the World Population Day 2012 Press Conference
Ms. Mandeep K. O'Brien, UNFPA Representative a.i. in Viet Nam speaks at the World Population Day 2012 Press Conference

We know that  most maternal and neonatal deaths can be prevented through universal access to reproductive health care services. For this to happen, health systems need to be strengthened to improve access to family planning; we must also invest in health workers with midwifery skills, and ensure access to emergency obstetric care when complications arise. These measures, if implemented comprehensively in Viet Nam, would not only save many lives, but would also improve the nation’s economic and social productivity. This is a highly cost-effective public health strategy," said Ms. Mandeep K. O'Brien, UNFPA Representative a.i. in Viet Nam.

Click here to read the press release and UNFPA's speech at the press conference