Vietnam targets accelerating promises in realising population and development goals

Wednesday, 2019-07-10 16:57:21
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Vietnam has made significant results during the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action over the past 25 years. (Photo: NDO/Tran Hai)
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NDO – Vietnam has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerating the implementation of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)’s Programme of Action towards realising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It was confirmed by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien at a ceremony held by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam at the Green One UN House in Hanoi on July 10 to mark this year’s World Population Day (July 11) with the theme “25 years of the ICPD: accelerating the promise”.

Held in Cairo in 1994, the ICPD discussed population targets shifts and put the needs and aspirations of human beings at the centre of sustainable development. With this paradigm shift, 179 governments, including Vietnam, adopted the visionary Programme of Action and agreed that putting people first, empowering women, and enabling people to freely decide the timing and spacing of their pregnancies would clear the way to sustainable development.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister Tien emphasised that in the past 25 years, Vietnam has achieved important feats in poverty reduction, employment, reproductive and sexual health, service and rights, and issues related to adolescents and youngsters.

Particularly in the field of reproductive and sexual health, services and rights, Vietnam has developed effective responses to emerging population issues, such as evidence-based policies and programmes to improve and control cervical cancer, reduce unmet needs for contraceptives in unmarried youth groups, improve access to comprehensive sex education for young people and improve good prevention and response to harmful behaviours, including gender-based violence and skewed sex ratio at birth.

Since 2016, Vietnam, along with the rest of the world, has embarked on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, underpinned by the 17 SDGs. The Agenda and its Goals seek to achieve a life of dignity for all, in order to truly leave no one behind.

Tien stressed that SDG goals and targets would not be fully achieved without holistic and comprehensive responses to universal human rights and equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, youth development, gender equality, empowerment of women, education, security, employment opportunities, economic growth and dignity for all people.

UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, Astrid Bant, said as marking 25 years since the ICPD, UNFPA also celebrates its 50th anniversary. The milestones offer a collective opportunity to recommit to ensuring that everyone everywhere reaps the benefits of this transformative agenda, whose implementation is essential for accelerating progress across the SDGs, she affirmed.

The UN official also revealed that UNFPA has embarked on a new strategic plan, which supports the 2030 Agenda and strengthens its commitment to the ICPD Programme of Action, committing to three transformative results by 2030 of zero maternal deaths, zero unmet needs for family planning, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

At the ceremony, delegates exchanged contents related to the ICPD, changes in Vietnam in the past 25 years since implementing the ICPD Programme of Action, new risks and challenges and measures to offer comprehensive reproductive health care services for all.

The ICPD Programme of Action called for women’s reproductive health and rights to take centre stage in national and global development efforts. It also called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, safe pregnancy and childbirth services, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. It also recognised that reproductive health and women’s empowerment are intertwined, and that both are necessary for the continued advancement of society.

Since the ICPD was held in Cairo in 1994, the world has a whole made significant achievements. In 1994, only about 15% of married women in the least developed countries used a modern contraceptive, but today 37% do. Twenty-five years ago, in the least-developed countries, nearly 800 in 100,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth, and today that rate has been cut in half. A woman in a least-developed country 25 years ago had nearly six children, now she has fewer than four.

However, much more must be done to tear down the barriers that prevent women, men and couples from fully exercising their reproductive rights. Next November, governments, advocates, health organisations, women’s and youth activists and others will gather in Kenya for the Nairobi Summit to seek clear commitments that would advance the goals of the ICPD and secure the rights and dignity of all.