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VietNamNews

Experts question reproductive health policy

Update: November, 06/2013 - 08:58

Medical staff provide reproductive healthcare to an ethnic minority woman in Dam Ha District, Quang Ninh Province. Minority women will receive financial support for healthchecks, prenatal checks and when they give birth if a new proposal is approved. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HA NOI (VNS) — A proposed policy to offer more reproductive health support to ethnic women is under threat after population experts claimed it would be impossible to implement efficiently.

Dissenting voices argued that the proposal, while well-meaning, was unfeasible due to the shortage of beneficiaries and high level of work required of medical workers.

The proposal, which had been submitted as a draft decision and edited by the Ministry of Health (MoH)'s Department of Maternal and Child Health, was receiving feedback ahead of being sent to the prime minister's office for approval.

Under the draft, minority women living in poor remote areas and having no more than three children would receive financial support for health checks, prenatal checks and their delivering baby in a hospital.

Pregnant women would also receive an allowance for travelling from their houses to medical stations or hospitals for checks. The allowance was calculated at 0.2l of petrol per kilometre. At present it is about VND5,000 (US$0.23) per kilometre.

If they had to reside in hospital, they would receive an allowance of 3 per cent of the minimum wage per day, equivalent to VND32,000 ($1.50).

The MoH calculated that more than 1.2 million poor minority women could benefit from the policy, however, Dao Vi Phuong, deputy head of the Viet Nam Women Association's Family and Society Board, rejected the statistics and said the number of beneficiaries would be far fewer.

Women in ethnic communities often had four or five children and would therefore not qualify for the support, she said.

Deputy Director of the Dien Bien General Hospital Vi Thi Hoa said that the most difficult problem would be managing the fund in communal medical stations, which lack accountants and cashiers.

"If medical workers have to also operate as accountants and cashiers, losses can happen easily," she warned.

Director of the Nghe An Reproductive Health Centre Nguyen Ba Tan shared another concern, arguing communes would use the fund to solve other more prioritised problems, leaving women waiting up to five or six years to receive the allowance.

Meanwhile, deputy director of the Lao Cai Department of Health Dam Thi Lien criticised the regulation surrounding travel allowance.

Lien said that medical workers n remote areas did not have the capacity to measure the distance between the women's houses and the medical stations.

To be sure of the exact distance, communal land survey workers must check it and officially certify the information.

However, in a Kafkaesque scenario, Lien predicted that local women would reject the allowance intended to help them because of the complicated and bureaucratic process. — VNS

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