Speech of Mr. Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, on World Population Day 2017

11 July 2017

Excellency Madame Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, Vice President of Viet Nam
Excellency Mr. Nguyen Viet Tien, Vice Minister of Health;
Excellency Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs;
Excellency Mr. Nguyen Van Tan, Deputy General Director in-charge of General Office Of Population and Family Planning (GOPFP);
Excellency Ms. Beatrice Maser Mallor, Ambassador of Switzerland;
Excellency Ms. Jehanne Roccas, Ambassador of Belgium;
Excellency Ms. Maria Jesus Figa Lopez-Palop, Ambassador of Spain;
Excellency Ms. S. Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, Ambassador of Sri Lanka;
Excellency Mr. Doron Lebovich, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

On behalf of the United Nations system in Viet Nam, I am honoured to be with you today to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the cooperation between the Government of Viet Nam and UNFPA, and this year’s World Population Day.

I would like to congratulate UNFPA and the Government of Viet Nam on a long-standing and successful collaboration since 1977, in which UNFPA together with other UN agencies have supported the Government of Viet Nam in fully achieving the three Millennium Development Goal targets of eradicating of extreme poverty, universal primary education, and gender equality. Of these achievements, UNFPA’s contribution was especially critical in promoting universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, with a focus on the most disadvantaged population groups. Furthermore, UNFPA has successfully supported the Government in addressing gender-based violence and the imbalance of the sex ratio at birth, and helped develop two important laws on gender equality and domestic violence, amongst others. At present, UNFPA is assisting the Government in developing a Population Law that is rights-based and applying a life cycle approach in order to address these emerging demographic and development challenges. In the next two years, the UN in Viet Nam will prioritize UNFPA as the leading agency supporting the Government of Viet Nam on the 2019 Consensus which is published every ten years.This also marks the fourth total population consensus round in the country with UNFPA’s technical support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
11 July of each year also marks World Population Day, which was first declared in 1989, and is the day on which the world population reached five billion. It is a day to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, including impacts of changes in global fertility rates and life expectancy and ageing. The theme of this year “Family Planning – Empowering People, Developing Nations” as declared by the United Nations urges and promotes access to safe, voluntary family planning, which is a basic human right. It is also central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and is a key factor in reducing poverty.

Yet around the world, some 214 million women in developing and low middle income countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners, governments or communities. Many of those with an unmet demand for contraceptives live in the poorest countries on earth. Investments in making family planning available also yield economic and other gains that can propel development forward.

Investing in family planning is investing in health and the rights of women and couples worldwide. These investments also yield economic and other gains that can propel development forward and are thus critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I am pleased to have just participated in the official launch of the Viet Nam National Action Plan to implement the 2030 Agenda, which marks an important milestone in Viet Nam’s active participation in the global 2030 Agenda journey and towards the fulfilment of its SDG commitments. It comes just ten days before the UN’s High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs in New York, which I will attend, and is therefore very well timed. Viet Nam will also co-host a High-Level partner exchange side event with Bangladesh, Italy, Zimbabwe and UNDP on “ICTs for eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” on 17 July in New York.

Under the framework of the National Action Plan, the Ministry of Health will lead the process for SDG 3 – ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. By 2030, the Government of Viet Nam is planning to reduce the maternal mortality rate by half to below 45 per 100,000 live births, the under-one child mortality rate to below 10 per 10,000 live births, and the under-five mortality rate to below 15 per 1,000 live births. In 2014, the national maternal mortality rate was 60, which is not too distant from the SDG target of 45. Nearly all women now give birth in hospitals and have access to antenatal care and postnatal care. The UN stands ready to support the Government of Viet Nam in their efforts to achieve full achievement of the SDGs, which are comprehensive, universal and interlinked, and cut across all dimensions of sustainable development.   

World Population Day should remind us all about the importance of access to safe, voluntary family planning, a fundamental human right that is central to the achievement of both gender equality and women’s empowerment.  

I wish you all a happy World Population Day! Xin Cảm Ơn!