Sexual imbalance at birth remains critical in Vietnam

Wednesday, 2017-08-30 11:37:04
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Ethnic minority children join Khmer language class at new Tra Tim Pagoda, Dai Tan commune, My Xuyen district, Soc Trang province. (Credit: NDO)
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NDO – Sexual imbalance at birth is increasing and is currently at a serious level in Vietnam, with the sex ratio at birth (boys per 100 girls) remaining quite high, stated a report on population and family planning, released on August 29.

According to the report released by the General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP), skewed birth sex ratio is still on the rise. The total number of children born in the first six months of 2017 was almost 485,000, increasing by over 7,100 (up 1.5%) in comparison with the same period in 2016, of which the number of newborn boys is 257,727, an increase of 3,809 (up 2.1%), while the number of newborn girls is 227,219, an increase of 3,358.

Notably, the sex ratio at the time of June 2017 was 113.4/100. According to the 2009 Population and Housing Census, the figure stood at 110.6 boys per 100 girls. In 2014, it rose to 112.2, with the Red River Delta region alone reaching 118 boys per 100 girls.

To keep control of the skewed sex ratio at birth, so far 48 out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide have approved and implemented new response plans for sexual imbalance at birth during the 2016-2025 period, with increased propaganda work and the integration of skewed sex ratio control into gender equality.

In support of the work, according to Nguyen Van Tan, Deputy Head of GOPFP, on July 31, 2017, the Prime Minister signed a decision on a new population healthcare programme with eight key projects during the 2016-2020 period, with many changes compared to 2011-2015. However, population and family planning work in general still faces a range of difficulties due to decreased capital for the execution of the programme, with the central budget covering just 40%.

Meanwhile, the GOPFP also noticed that fertility rates have increased slightly in many regions between 2011 and 2015, especially in the Red River Delta, the Northern Midlands and Mountains, the North Central Coast and the Central Coast. However, it has yet not increased beyond replacement fertility (still within 2.1 children/mother).

The reason for the increase in fertility, according to the agency, is due to a number of policy adjustments that seek to limit the birth of a third child. In addition, the contraceptive measures are no longer free as before, leading to an increase in expenditure for contraceptive services.

In the time ahead, the realisation of the population and family planning goals will continue to be key task, said the GOPFP, urging local population and family planning departments to closely monitor the development of fertility and the use of family planning measures, with the common goal of ensuring an adequate means of contraception in order to maintain stable replacement fertility.

In addition, screening for malformations and birth defects, improve the quality of population, provide population-family planning services for adolescents and youth and control the increase of imbalanced sex ratio at birth will also be strengthened.