Quang Ninh hosts regional largest conference on reproductive and sexual health

Tuesday, 2017-11-28 09:13:19
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Deputy Minister of Health, Prof., Dr. Nguyen Viet Tien speaks at the opening session.
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NDO – The 9th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR9), the largest event of its kind, opened in the northern province of Quang Ninh on November 28, gathering around 1,000 delegates who are scientists, researchers, academics, and representatives of governments, academia and civil society from 40 countries in the region.

>>> Vietnam to host largest regional conference on reproductive and sexual health

Held for the first time in Vietnam under the theme of “Leave NO ONE Behind! Justice in Sexual and Reproductive Health,” this year’s event is hosted by the Vietnam Public Health Association (VPHA) with support from the Vietnam Ministry of Health, Quang Ninh authorities, Ford Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other bodies. Initiated in the Philippines in 2001, the biennial event aims to review and discuss successful policies and models in the region related to sexual and reproductive health.

Building on the success of eight previous regional conferences, the APCRSHR9 will seek to advance the implementation of the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, as well as to contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals, whose ultimate pledge is to leave no one behind.

The four-day meeting will provide an opportunity to share research findings, lessons learned and good practices. Among the issues discussed will be evidence-based advocacy; challenges and opportunities in service provision, good quality comprehensive sexuality and relationships education; along with barriers and enablers towards advancing sexual and reproductive health rights, including the burning issues of abortion and sexual rights.

Speaking at the opening session, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien emphasised that in the past two decades, Vietnam has made remarkable progress in implementing the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. The health status of the Vietnamese people, especially sexual and reproductive health, has improved dramatically. By 2015, the contraceptive prevalence rate in Vietnam reached 80%, and the maternal mortality rate was at 60/100,000 live births. Vietnam is one of the few developing countries that have achieved MDG 4 and 5 by 2015.

In the near future, the country aims to continue striving to reduce and finally eliminate the disparity in healthcare in general, reproductive health and sexual health in particular, with special attention to ethnic minority people and areas with difficult access to high quality healthcare services, aiming to achieve sustainable development goals.

Around 1,000 delegates representing governments, academia and civil society are expected to attend related workshops and other thematic conferences under the framework of the event.

Dr. Le Vu Anh, President of the VPHA and Head of the Organising Committee, said that the conference provides a platform for participants to share their experience and lessons learned, while offering unrivalled opportunities for individuals and networks to strengthen regional cooperation to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

Delegates at the APCRSHR9 will focus on five related issues, including overcoming social, cultural and religious barriers to sexual and reproductive health; strengthening justice systems for sexual and reproductive health and rights; towards a just economic order for sexual and reproductive health; making good quality sexual and reproductive health education available to all; and advancing justice and equity in sexual and reproductive health and healthcare.

During the main conference, 20 distinguished speakers – including scholars, researchers, editors of international journals, executive directors and leaders of key organisations, universities, UN and government agencies – will present papers and lead discussions on the most pressing issues related to sexual and reproductive health rights.

An additional 166 presentations will be given in 35 parallel sessions, and more than 147 abstracts will be presented as posters. Key issues relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights will be discussed in 27 satellite sessions. Delegates will also have the opportunity to undertake field visits to local sexual and reproductive health projects in Quang Ninh.

Earlier on Monday, an associated Youth Conference was held in order to provide an opportunity for young people to voice their aspirations with policy makers and donors on issues related to the theme of the conference.