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Vietnam checks rising population - and benefits socioeconomically

HA NOI — Significant outcomes have been attained in curbing population growth in Viet Nam, with 18.5 million people lower than estimated by 2010, according to health officials. "Achievements of population activities have contributed much to spur the country's socio-economic development, realise Millennium Development Goals, and combat hunger and poverty."

Originally published as "Nation checks rising population," in the In the Vietnam News

Nurses care for newborn babies at Saint Paul Hospital in Ha Noi. For the past 40 years, the average number of children per woman has fallen from 6.3 to 2. — VNA/VNS Photo Huu Oai

HA NOI — Significant outcomes have been attained in curbing population boom in Viet Nam, with 18.5 million people lower than estimated by 2010, according to health officials yesterday.

The success was hailed at a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnamese Population Day (December 26) in Ha Noi.

President Truong Tan Sang presented the first class Independence Order to the population and family planning sector for their achievements in national socio-economic growth.

The Ministry of Health statistics showed that during the period of 1960-2010, the average number of children for a woman of reproductive age had reduced from 6.3 to 2.0.

Life expectancy had increased from 40 to 73. Population growth rate also had reduced from 3.8 per cent to 1.05 per cent. The availability of contraceptive measures had increased the number of married couples of reproductive age.

Director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning Duong Quoc Trong said scientists had estimated that the population scale of Viet Nam would reached 105.5 million in 2010. In fact, the country population was 87 million last year.

"Achievements of population activities have contributed much to spur the country's socio-economic development, realise Millennium Development Goals, and combat hunger and poverty," said Trong.

However, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said, Viet Nam was facing problems in handling emerging issues in population activities such as the difference in birth rate between regions, areas and provinces nation-wide, the imbalance in gender at birth and low population quality.

The health ministry reported that the imbalance of the sexes at birth has been at an alarming level where the sex ratio (the number of males per 100 females) at birth had increased from 110 in 2006 to 111.9 in 2011.

The rate of new-borns with congenital deformities also was on the increase. Situation of early marriage and in-breeding in some ethnic and minority groups were problems causing race degradation.

"An intervention plan should be programmed to actively control the population growth rate due to increasing demands of family planning," stressed Tien.

Tien said that intervention measures should be brought forwards faster with an aim to improve population quality and control population growth rate and unbalanced sex ratio in Viet Nam.

Closely collaboration between ministries and sectors was needed for the perfection of law and the regulation system on population and family planning and implementation of the population and reproductive health strategy of Viet Nam during the 2011-20 period. — VNS

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Comments

"The health ministry reported that the imbalance of the sexes at birth has been at an alarming level where the sex ratio (the number of males per 100 females) at birth had increased from 110 in 2006 to 111.9 in 2011."

This statement sounds alarmist to me. My suspicion is that it comes from the growth lobby because the statistical variation is over such a short period and is unlikely to be reliable.

"The rate of new-borns with congenital deformities also was on the increase. Situation of early marriage and in-breeding in some ethnic and minority groups were problems causing race degradation."

This statement seems scientifically unlikely to me, unless it is indicative that the population base of minorities has dropped to catastrophic levels, affecting traditional healthy tribal endogamy/exogamy balances. Then you would have to ask yourself why those populations have dropped or why their health has been noticably affected. More likely to be associated with land-loss, nutritional deficiencies or local industrial effluent. I'd like to know more.