Maternal and child mortality rate still high

Although maternal health has improved substantially, Vietnam’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) remained unchanged between 2006 and 2009, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at a recent conference in Hanoi.

To reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters (58.3 per 100,000 live births), greater effort is needed. 

The Health Ministry reported the MMR has declined considerably in the last two decades. Deaths have decreased from 233 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 in 2009. Access to quality reproductive healthcare has improved, including maternal and neonatal health, family planning and use of modern contraception.

The establishment of stronger programmes, policies and laws for reproductive health and rights, as well as measures to provide quality services to the poor and other vulnerable groups, has also progressed. 

However, from 2006-2009 the MMR was unchanged. Disparity remains and must be addressed, including the higher rate of maternal mortality in remote and ethnic minority areas. Geographical factors, education and traditional practices in remote areas often prevent mothers from accessing maternal health services. 

According to WHO, it is still difficult for minority ethnic groups, young people and immigrants in Vietnam to assess reproductive health information and services, including family planning. The reproductive healthcare network is insufficient in mountainous areas where there is a lack of infrastructure, low number of medical staff and unfavourable working conditions. 

The latest study shows that one-third of young people in Vietnam still face barriers to reproductive health information and services. The 2010 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) shows there is a demand for contraception among unmarried young people. The unmet need for contraception among young people aged 15-19 and 20-24 is 35.4 percent and 34.6 percent, respectively. As a result, a significant number of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions occur. 

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien says it is essential for Vietnam to improve the knowledge, skills and attitude of maternal and newborn healthcare providers. The priority should be given to skilled attendance at delivery with a strengthened referral system to a centre that can provide comprehensive care, including emergency obstetric and newborn care.

VNA/VOV Online