HA NOI, 26 November 2012 – At a workshop to review the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) organized in Ha Noi, the Ministry of Health and the United Nations in Viet Nam called for increased efforts to accelerate progress towards the MDGs, with a specific focus on MDGs 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7, in order to achieve universal access to healthcare services by 2015. The workshop also initiated a discussion on post-2015 health priorities for Viet Nam.
Progress made in providing and protecting health care for Vietnamese people
Viet Nam officially graduated to a middle-income country in 2010. Data from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other population-based surveys indicates that Viet Nam has made very impressive progress towards achieving the MDGs and has been successful in meeting some of them significantly ahead of the 2015 deadline.
Addressing the workshop, Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said: "Besides economic development, Viet Nam has paid special attention and prioritized resources for poverty eradication, social development and health improvement. Two-thirds of the way to 2015, Viet Nam has gained significant achievements in providing and protecting health care for Vietnamese people, towards achieving the health-related MDGs by 2015 ".
Disparities remain among geographic areas and population groups
However, significant disparities and inequities in MDG achievement remain among geographic areas and population groups. Stunting in children remains severe at an estimated 32 per cent nationally. The maternal death rate is five times the national average in the 62 poorest districts in the country. Infant mortality rates in some provinces are five to six times higher than in more developed provinces. The unmet need for contraceptives is still high, especially among unmarried young people. The HIV prevalence rate is also still a concern.
UN encourages focus on the poor, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups, including vulnerable youth
In her opening remarks, Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam congratulated the Government for its strong commitment, leadership and efforts in improving healthcare services for Vietnamese people. In order to reduce the inequity in access to and use of maternal and child care services, she recommended that: "Universal access to an essential package of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services, that integrates nutrition interventions and HIV prevention, should focus in particular on the poor, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups, including vulnerable youth. Geographical and financial barriers need to be removed, for instance by empowering community health workers to provide basic healthcare, developing health insurance for all and other supporting financial initiatives."
Key findings on how to improve
During the workshop, global, regional and national progress on the health MDGs was shared. A presentation was also delivered on using economic evaluation evidence to increase the resource allocation to achieve the health-related MDGs. National experts from the MOH presented the key findings from a draft report on health equity in Viet Nam. This provided a basis for a discussion on opportunities, challenges and other potential risks to fully achieve all the health MDGs by 2015 and beyond.
Participants were very actively in discussing on how to maintain the achievements gained so far and to accelerate the progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2015. Some of the key recommendations focused on equity, improving the quality of services, strengthening the health system, especially at sub-national level, and improving data and monitoring of the MDGs. Participants also agreed on the need of more urgent actions and joint efforts for targeted interventions in specific geographic areas and for specific vulnerable groups. This will ensure that the MDG targets are achieved in every village and in every household in Viet Nam by 2015 and beyond.
Vice Minister of Health wants taskforce group to be responsible for urgent actions and a detailed action plan
In conclusion, the Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien appreciated the great support from the development partners, especially the UN in Viet Nam in helping Viet Nam to achieve the MDGs by 2015. She recommended to establish a taskforce group, which includes members of different ministries under the leadership of the MOH. This taskforce group will be responsible for reviewing priorities, identifying urgent actions and developing a detailed action plan to accelerate the progress towards achieving the MDGs. In addition, she also stressed the need of allocating budget from existing ODA funded projects and National Target Programmes to ensure the achievement of the health-related MDGs. She emphasized that a multi-sectoral coordination mechanism is critical for reducing the equity gap and reaching the health-related MDGs for all.
The UN Resident Coordinator Ms, Mehta reaffirmed the commitment of the UN, as highlighted in the Government of Viet Nam - UN One Plan 2012-2016, to continue its support, together with development partners and other key stakeholders, to ensure the achievement and sustainability of equitable health in Viet Nam.