World Population Day 2013: Improving access to sex education and services holds key to preventing teenage pregnancy

Ha Noi, 10 July 2013 - With 16 million girls aged 15-19 giving birth each year worldwide, complications from pregnancy and child birth continue to be the leading cause of death among adolescent girls in low and middle-income countries.

More than 1/3 of young Vietnamese lack acces to contraception

In the past decade, although Viet Nam has made impressive progress o­n reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to reproductive health and family planning services, more than a third of young Vietnamese still lack access to the contraception they need. As a result, the rates of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions are still high amongst young girls, especially those who are unmarried.

In Viet Nam, according to national data the unmet need for contraceptives is still 35.4 per cent amongst young people aged 15–19 and 34.6 per cent of young people aged 20–24 years. In 2011, the overall adolescent birth rate in Viet Nam was 46 per 1000. This rate was found to be higher among groups with lower levels of education, poorer living standards, and ethnic minority backgrounds, located in the Northern midland and mountainous regions, and the rural areas.

Enhance quality of sexual and reproductive health services

To make sure that Viet Nam achieves the 5th Millennium Development Goal o­n reducing maternal mortality in every commune in the country by 2015, greater efforts should be devoted to enhancing the quality of sexual and reproductive health services for the most disadvantaged groups. This will also require strengthening the knowledge, skills and attitudes among all public and private service providers of sexual and reproductive health care for unmarried young people.

“We must invest in adolescent girls for their own sake.  Educated and healthy girls have the opportunity to reach their full potential and claim their human rights. They are also more likely to marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children, and earn higher incomes. They can help lift themselves and their present and future families out of poverty.  They will be a force for change in their communities and generations to come," said Mr. Arthur Erken, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam.

On World Population Day 2013, the Ministry of Health and the United Nations in Viet Nam called for more concerted efforts from the government, international development partners and other concerned stakeholders to join the worldwide observance by creating awareness o­n the importance of addressing the various factors that contribute to early pregnancy among teenage girls in Viet Nam.