|A medical worker tells a pregnant woman about prenatal health in northern mountainous Bac Kan Province's Quang Chu Commune. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
BAC KAN (VNS) — Most ethnic families in the northern mountain province of Bac Kan still prefer to raise many children, even though local authorities say this is negatively affecting family finances and creating employment, education and health problems.
However, at the same time, authorities admit that there have been funding problems for even the simplest medical care, adding that the road networks were often so bad that pregnant women, or anyone seeking care, found it difficult to reach a district clinic or hospital.
Pac Nam District has had the highest population increase in the province. Statistics from the area's Centre of Population and Family Planning show that 307 boys and 249 girls were born last year.
More than 100 of them were the third children in the family, an increase of 9 per cent over 2012.
In Boc Bo Commune, the central one in the district, many villages are poor and the rate of bearing third children is high.
Typically, in Khau Vai Village, where most residents are Mong, each family has at least five children, and many families have 9-10 children.
As many as 20 out of 51 couples in the village are of child-bearing age.
Dao Thi Nhung, the village's population voluntary co-ordinator, said that trying to educate people to have smaller families met many difficulties due to the language barrier between them and the Kinh (Vietnamese) majority and distance between families.
"Having lots of children but little stable work or farm land has made most local residents poor," said Nhung.
She described the problem as backward thinking based on the idea that big families were more fortunate.
Attempts to introduce family planning have faded because, in recent years, ethnic people have been asked to pay for contraceptive services, including condoms, morning-after pills and inserting coils. In past years, State money was usually provided.
Ban Thi Pet, a population adviser in Phieng Luong Village, Cong Bang District, said that many women bore their children at home although it was less hygienic and often dangerous.
However, ethnic women generally do not have enough money to go to hospital and poorly made roads prevent them from attending hospitals and medical stations.
Moreover, said Pet, they knew that many women still bore their children at home without any health problems.
Deputy director of the Bac Kan Reproductive Health Care Centre, Nong Van Vinh, said that bearing children at home was dangerous because midwives often had limited medical knowledge and rarely used sterilised equipment.
Vinh said another difficulty was that the infrastructure at most district and communal medical clinics was often outdated. Much of the equipment and medicines were not up to standard or did not meet demand.
Six out of eight district medical clinics in the province did not have a paediatric doctor, and two districts did not have obstetrician.
Pac Nam District has more than 100 villages, but has only six village-based midwives, and Ba Be District did not even have a midwife.
The province has tried to discourage early marriage and marriage between couples with close blood ties in Ba Be and Pac Nam districts.
Under the model, population workers join hand with schools to prevent students from leaving school to get married. They also disseminate the Law on Marriage and Family, regulations on marriage registration, reproductive health care and family planning.
Prestigious people in different villages have been asked to speak out against early marriage and consanguinous marriages. — VNS