Speech of Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative, at the Launch of the Family Planning Study

8 May 2018

Mr. Nguyen Viet Tien, Vice Minister of Health;

Mr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, Deputy General Director of GOPFP;

Representatives from provinces, Embassies, International Organizations, Civil Society Organisations, fellow UN colleagues and media;

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you;

It is a pleasure to be here today, for the launching of the Report on the “Study on the quality of Family Planning Services in Viet Nam”.

On behalf of the UNFPA in Viet Nam, I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Health for co-organizing this workshop to launch the key findings of this important study. I would also like to especially thank the Honorable Vice-Minister, Mr. Nguyen Viet Tien, for his inspiring opening speech.

As you know, this study was developed by the Ministry of Health, with technical and financial support from UNFPA. We would like to thank the research team, particularly Dr. Abul Barkat, Dr. Avijit Poddar (HDRC), Dr. Tran Tuan and Ms. Tran Thu Ha (RTCCD) for their substantial contributions to all phases of the study. We would also like to thank the General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP) and relevant experts from the Ministry of Health, particularly Deputy Director in-charge of GOPFP Mr. Nguyen Van Tan for his encouragement and invaluable support for the research team during the study. And of course, we would particularly like to thank all members of the data collection team (enumerators and supervisors) for their hard work and commitment to high-quality data.

Distinguished guests,

Viet Nam – and the world – has embarked on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, underpinned by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We seek to achieve a life of dignity for all in order to truly leave no one behind.

At UNFPA, we are about to embark on a Strategic Plan to fulfill three transformational zero goals for our region and our world:

  • Zero maternal deaths;
  • Zero unmet need for family planning; and
  • Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices.

These three goals  are based on a platform of population data for development and are enshrined in the 2030 Agenda, as well as the Programme of Action that emerged from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. Both continue to guide our work as we shift policy from words into action  – and  are both as relevant today than ever.

Globally, some 214 million women want to avoid or delay childbearing. Why should they lack access to quality services and supplies, including modern contraception. Among them are 6.3 million sexually active adolescent girls in Asia and the Pacific. Without expression of rights and quality services for these precious young lives, we will continue to have the estimated 3.6 million unsafe abortions among young women in this region every year.

And we will see millions of new cases of sexually transmitted infections. These combined epidemics have a profound impact: on the health and lives of children, adolescents and adults including causing fetal and neonatal deaths; cervical cancer; infertility; HIV risk; and physical, psychological and social consequences that can severely compromise the quality of life of those infected.

Distinguished guests,

Over the past four decades, Viet Nam has made considerable improvements in its family planning service delivery system. The total fertility rate has fallen from an average of 5 children per couple (recorded in the 1970s) to replacement level at 2.09 in 2016. The Modern contraceptive prevalence rate increased from 37 per cent in 1988 to 67 per cent in 2016. The Maternal mortality rate has fallen from 233 per 100,000 live births in the 1990s to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2009 and 58.3 per 100,000 live births in 2016 – a dramatic improvement.

The study found that the overall Contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) was very high at 80.5%, and highest in the Southeastern Region (83.4%) and lowest in the Red River Delta (75.1%). The CPR is higher in urban areas than rural areas. The highest CPR, found in the Southeastern region, was associated with the highest use of traditional methods (27.2%). At the same time, the lowest CPR, in the Red River Delta, was associated with the lowest use of traditional methods (10.5%). These data suggest reliance on traditional methods as opposed to use of modern methods, and indicate a need to consider means of transforming traditional method users into informed users of modern methods.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before giving the floor to my colleagues to present key findings of these reports, I would like to reiterate a few key messages and calls for action that are highlighted in the reports:

Firstly, as the contraceptive mix is still skewed toward female methods, vigorous behavioral change communication activities should be arranged to encourage male participation in family planning to increase the use of male methods such as male condoms

Secondly, given high traditional contraceptive use and its high failure rate, GOPFP should develop an effective communication strategy to minimize traditional method use and increase the use of modern contraceptives, particularly in the Southeastern region. To further widen the scope of informed client choice, counseling should provide more information on various aspects of family planning services (advantages and disadvantages, side effects, instructions on proper use of methods, etc.) as well as address needs of new clients and those intending to switch methods.

Finally, given the significant role of Population Collaborators in providing non-clinical methods (with a very high discontinuation rate), GOPFP should develop national guidelines on monitoring and technical backstopping the performance of these important family planning providers.

Distinguished guests,

Access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right. Family planning is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and it is a key factor in reducing poverty. Achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will depend significantly on how well the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people are fulfilled. Catering to their unmet need for family planning is among the most cost-effective investments overall.

UNFPA in Viet Nam is fully committed to support the Government and people of Viet Nam to ensure that universal access to health, including sexual and reproductive health, will become a reality for all. Together, we can build a future where zero is the only acceptable number: zero maternal deaths, zero unmet demand for family planning, and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls. Where we fulfill the hopes and dreams for a future for Viet Nam where absolutely no one is left behind.

In conclusion, I would like to quote Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, our Former Executive Director, with a call to action: “Until every girl, every woman, everybody wherever they may be, can access reproductive health services, especially family planning, the work is not done.”

Our work is not done. When it comes to unmet need for family planning, the only acceptable number is zero.

Thank you very much for your attention and participation. I look forward to discussing these issues with you further during this workshop.