Head of the General Office for Population and Family Planning Nguyễn Doãn Tú. — Photo nhandan.com.vn
Head of the General Office for Population and Family Planning under the Ministry of Health, Nguyễn Doãn Tú, talks to Nhân Dân (The People) newspaper about Việt Nam’s population strategy
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has issued Decision 1679/QĐ-TTg approving Việt Nam's Population Strategy towards 2030. What does the strategy focus on?
The strategy emphasises the need for more efforts to shift the focus from family planning to population and development to solve population issues including size, structure and distribution. The strategy will also focus on the relationship with economic, social, national defence and public security factors.
The strategy sets out eight goals to be achieved by 2030.
1) Maintain the replacement fertility rate and reduce fertility disparities across regions and groups.
2) Protect and develop populations of ethnic minorities of less than 10,000 people.
3) Bring the sex ratio at birth to a natural balance, and strive to maintain the age structure at a reasonable level.
4) Improve the quality of the population.
5) Promote rational population distribution and ensure national defence and public security.
6) Complete the construction and operation of a national population database, and accelerate the integration of population factors into the formulation and implementation of socio-economic development plans.
7) Maximise the advantages of a golden population, creating strong momentum for the country's rapid and sustainable development.
8) Adapt to an aging population and promote healthcare for the elderly.
It also sets out eight solutions.
1) Strengthen the leadership and direction of Party committees and authorities at all levels.
2) Innovate communications and campaigning about population.
3) Perfect mechanisms, policies and laws on population.
4) Improve network development and population service quality.
5) Speed up scientific research while perfecting population information and data systems.
6) Ensure resources for population work.
7)Complete syllabus for education structure.
8) Strengthen international co-operation.
Given Việt Nam's current population, what advantages and challenges will the strategy encounter?
Việt Nam is striving to basically become an industrialised country towards modernisation by 2030. Currently, there are many shortcomings and limitations facing population work.
Fertility rates vary significantly between provinces, and between rural and urban areas. Areas facing multiple social and economic difficulties have high rates, such as the northern midland and mountainous areas and the Central Highlands, where the birth rate is 2.43 children per woman. Some places have even higher rates, such as Yên Bái and Kon Tum where it reaches 2.74. Meanwhile, in areas with developed social and economic structures, the fertility rate has dropped, such as the southeast region where it's just 1.56. In some places, the fertility rate is much lower than the replacement rate, for example, HCM City's rate is just 1.39.
Although adjustments have been made to policies and regulations, no increases have been seen in most places with low rates, and some have continued to decline, especially in southern provinces. In the North, the fertility rate is unstable and has increased in some places.
The imbalance in the sex ratio at birth with an excess of boys over girls has become increasingly widespread, both in urban and rural areas.
The golden population may meet the quantity criteria, but not the quality we need in our human resources as labour productivity remains limited. No in-depth research has been carried out to propose solutions and promulgate synchronous mechanisms and policies to promote the advantages of the golden population.
Việt Nam has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world, while socio-economic conditions are not prepared to adapt.
Regarding the quality of the population, the current human development index (HDI) is low and is only improving slowly. The average life expectancy is high but the average number of years of healthy living is low. The rate of maternal deaths, child mortality and malnutrition among children under five years old is still high, with significant disparities across regions.
The stature and physical strength of Vietnamese people has slowly improved. Child marriages and incestuous marriages are still common among some ethnic minorities, while the protection and development of populations of ethnic minorities of less than 10,000 people is limited.
We are also limited in terms of population distribution and migration. Since 1989, migration has been growing, mainly from rural to urban areas. Most migrants are young and female.
Family planning services, counselling, pre-marriage health checkups, screenings, diagnoses, treatment, prenatal and neonatal diseases have not been properly invested in. The network of elderly care in the community and intensive care facilities remains underdeveloped.
We are also facing difficulties in communicating with people about population factors. Most population mechanisms and policies still focus on family planning. The integration of population factors in social and economic development has not received due attention.
What will the General Office for Population and Family Planning do to implement the strategy?
We will co-ordinate with localities to disseminate the strategy from central to grassroots levels. We will regularly provide information on the population for ministries, committees and local governments.
The office will direct and support localities to formulate action plans for 2020-25 to implement the strategy with goals and targets suitable to the local fertility situation, gender imbalance at birth and aging population.
The office is submitting a plan and investing in population work at all levels. We have also suggested that population projects should be incorporated into medium-term public investment plans. — VNS