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Family planning is a key issue that can’t just be wished away by anybody in the society. This is due to the fact that it affects our development from the personal to the national level. As such this paper tries to bring out the family planning status in Vietnam by looking at the current situation in the country and what the future holds for it (Andrea, 2002). In looking at family planning the paper examines the current family planning situation and the contraceptive use in the country. The paper tries to employ the statistical method in analyzing the relations between use of contraceptives in Vietnam and family planning (Largo, 2002).
The paper also looks at the family planning methods employed by men and women in Vietnam and how effective these methods are. The cultural practices of the Vietnamese have also been put into consideration by the study. This involves how the cultural practices are directly or indirectly a factor that promotes or discourages family planning in Vietnam.
Family planning refers to the strategies that are put in place to ensure individual or group families are able to raise the size of families which they can be able to manage. Family planning is borne out of the need for quality living standards for both parents and their children. Given the situation that is ion Vietnam and considering the fact that it’s a third world country, the problems that face the economy of Vietnam is closely related to its population growth rate. As such this paper tries to bring up the relations between this two factors and how the family planning can be improved in Vietnam based on the two (Werner, 2009).
The paper examines the barriers of family planning in Vietnam and at the end of the paper gives a recommendation of the way forward for the family planning situation in the country.
Family planning and contraception Background
The issue that is population growth is a key sector of concern to any nation. This is due to the fact that population directly and indirectly affects the development of a country. As such the population growth rate of Vietnam has been moving at a very alarming rate. Considering the period ranging from 1975-1990, Vietnam added a population of 18 million to its total population yet the whole of Europe in the same period of time only had added a population of 20 million. This has been a great concern to the government and even the development agencies that considered this as a threat to human development and peaceful coexistence. This brought the total population of the country to 78.7 million making it the third most populated country in South East Asia.
The recent population survey show that family planning has to a great extent reduced the population growth rate by a great margin. However the birth rate is still fairly high level of fertility of about 29 births per 1000 per year. Even with the governments two- child limit per family still fertility rate is at 3.8 per woman. Only 53% of the women are currently using contraceptives and of this 62% are using the Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD) method while the remaining 29% are using the traditional methods.
Vietnam is ranked among the third world countries. As such the characteristics that are common in the developing countries happen to apply in Vietnam. The high population growth rate is alarming. The country is basically agricultural and still automation is a thing that has yet to gain ground in the country. The population growth rate has not been going in line with the creation of job opportunities by the economy of the country. This has called in for the need to have the population growth checked (Skolnik, 2008).
Many recent social economic surveys have shown that high population growth rate puts a lot of pressure on the economy of countries. Vietnam has been a case in point where by the year 2002 the dependency ratio of Vietnam was 40%.This translates to stagnant development due to lack of savings and investment. The statistics showed that by the year 2002 Vietnam had 35% of its population being under the age of I5.
In way of liaising with the people of Vietnam in controlling the population, the government of Vietnam has been liaising with other development partner and Non-governmental organizations in promoting family planning. As such the use of contraceptives among the men and women has been encouraged.
The levels of poverty of the Vietnamese people are also contributory to the high birth rate in the country. This is a fact that the surveys have brought out as most of the poor especially in the southern part of the country are 30%more likely not to use the contraceptives (Inhorn, 2009).
a) What are the current contraception methods and practices
Some of the currently used contraceptive methods are: The intra-uterine device (IUD), the Pill, Contraceptive injection, Male and Female condoms, Female sterilization, Vasectomy, Skin patch and periodic abstinence or Withdrawal method. Of all these none gives 100% effectiveness. The most popularly used being IUD also called the coil. The method considered to give 100% results is abstinence.
Family planning trends in Vietnam can be said to be on a positive trend, however the uptake of the modern methods of contraception is worrying as the rate is just too slow yet the population is still growing at a fast rate.
The recent population survey by UNDP show that family planning has to a great extent reduced the population growth rate by a great margin. However, the birth rate is still fairly high level of fertility of about 29 births per 1000 per year. Even with the governments two- child limit per family still fertility rate is at 3.8 per woman. Only 53% of the women are currently using contraceptives and of this 62% are using the IUD and other methods like condoms, pills, and sterilization while the remaining 29% are using the traditional methods
The promotion of the use of contraceptives all the way from the 1990s has been working well for the Vietnamese people though it has been faced with a lot of challenges that need to be addressed. As a sow of positive trend, Vietnam Demographic and Health Survey of 2005 showed that 60% of the women that were non-pregnant were using contraceptives and most of them were actually using the modern contraceptives mostly the IUD from private clinics which extend their health services on how to use the contraceptives. This is because the intrauterine device is affordable, can be used for a long time; approximately five years, retains the normal sex life and rarely changes the women’s hormonal levels. The UID is enhances flexibility as once it is removed one becomes pregnant. However the odds of the use of these methods among illiterate women are about 34% lower than those of illiterate women. This shows a very close connection between the use of contraceptives and the educational levels (Murthy, 2010).
Family planning has been well supported through awareness of the community through education, social aspects like community health programs bucked up by stereotype on use of modern contraceptives. The education of the husband was also a contributor to the use of contraceptives by the couple. Couples with more than three children are more likely to use the modern contraceptive methods than those with fewer children. The residents of northern Vietnam are more likely to use the modern contraceptive methods by more than 27% compared to the southern Vietnamese. The use of condoms has mainly been hindered by the socio-cultural considerations. Given that women have less bargaining power for its use, it is out of the goodwill of the men that this will be used. This is due to the fact that most of the married women and the non-married that engage in sex are not quite aware of the availability of the female condoms.
The social aspects surrounding the family have also affected the uptake of the family planning measures. This can be looked from the point of the number of children that a couple have already raised. The stereotype that male child is better than the female has led to families with no male child not to use the contraceptives. This has become a problem that needs to be changed through proper education of the families on the importance of appreciating both sexes hence promoting family planning (Litvack, 1999).
The stereotype on the use of the modern contraceptive methods has a great impact and sum up to a great percentage of the reasons for not using the modern contraceptives. The use of the IUD Methods is better than the traditional methods which are only 4o% assured that they will function properly and be able to avoid unwanted pregnancies. A good size of the population of the married couples(31%-UNDP) believe that the modern methods are foreign and are likely to result to negative body effects such as barrenness. This has really worked against family planning in the country.
The government of Vietnam has taken various initiatives in addressing the issue that is high population growth rate. However this initiatives and mechanisms set up by the government have been faced with various challenges. The cultural background of the country citizens has worked against the family planning programs. This is due to the fact that men are culturally the ones to determine whether or not to use contraceptives. This has put the female gender at a disadvantage when it comes to decision-making (International Monetary Fund, 2006). The policies to take care of the ever increasing population surge have not worked due to poor framework. Poverty has worked against family planning programs as contraceptives are just but considered a secondary affair that need to come after the basic need. The varying figures given by the various agencies and non-governmental organizations on population have also been conflicting making it difficult to analyze the situation on the ground (Robinson, 2007). Family planning is an important aspect that can not be left to the government alone but calls for the cooperation from the government, development partners and more so the individual citizens of Vietnam. From the above analysis, various steps and things need to be put up by various stakeholders to ensure improvement in the family planning in Vietnam.
As from the above analysis it is a fact that education levels have played a key role in the use of contraceptives in Vietnam. The literate couples are more likely to use the contraceptives than the illiterate. This has been a great hindrance to the use of contraceptives in Vietnam as majority of its population is illiterate. It is even worse for the women gender. As such to deal with this barrier the government of Vietnam needs to put up programs that will ensure acquisition of education by most of the populations .This can be in way of providing affordable educational services through subsidized the academic requirements.
The government needs to also increase the budget allocations to the education sector. This will cater for the establishment of more schools and the employment of adequate teaching staff to cater for the larger hospital. The government should also facilitate legislations that will ensure the educational curriculum accommodates family planning awareness. This should be done starting with the lowest level of education possible.
Subsidies on the contraceptives need to be introduced to cater for those who find it expensive to purchase them. As much as these will be an expensive affair to the government population control will in the long run lead to less spending by the government (Waxler-Morrison, 2005).
Training is probably the most effective and most significant way of facilitating family planning. This follows the analysis of the Vietnam situation that shows that a good size of the population are not using the contraceptives as they do not have much information about how it functions and where it can be obtained.
Training needs to be done with two things in mind: Making majority of the populations in Vietnam to understand the need for family planning and also in ensuring that the family planning methods are well administered (Seltzer, 2002).
Training should also deal with the issue that is cultural change. Culture has been a major under doing for the Vietnamese government in dealing with family planning. Considering that reproduction involves two people this factor cannot just be wished away. The government together with other awareness should support cultural change that will provide environment that is conducive for the use of contraceptives (Dollar, 1998).
Cultural change will ensure that both sexes are well involved in the use of contraceptives for the purpose of family planning. This has been an under doing considering the fact that the men have been in the past the determining factor in the use of contraceptives (Rose, 2000).
C) Creation of Job opportunities;
The analysis of the family planning in Vietnam has indicated that poverty has been a major barrier to family planning programs. As such creation of job opportunities will indirectly affect the response to the programs. As much as the population growth could be discouraging to the policy makers over the pushing of the economy to create more jobs, such policies should be put in place. It is only when the citizens are economically empowered will they be able to afford and access the contraceptives (Gammeltoft, 1999).
The analysis of the Vietnam situation as concerns family planning has indicated that majority of those that live in the urban centers have access and actually purchase the various types of contraceptives, this implies The employed especially those that are in the urban centers are at an advantage to the acquisition of this contraceptives. This is due to the fact that a condom for example would only be bought after one has ensured that they have gotten food. Basic needs will always come faster before the contraceptives are brought into one’s mind (Andrews, 2005).
d) Liaising with the Development partners;
The government cannot single handedly deal with the population issue in Vietnam single-handedly. The issue that is population data and analysis has been difficult to deal with. The data provided by the government and other development agencies concerning the population has been in some instances conflicting given the large size of the population. As such there is need for comprehensive population analysis that will involve a quite definite figure. This would work well for the proper budgeting for the contraceptive methods that will ensure the deficits are not incurred (Haughton, 1999).
Proper data analysis will enable the government together with the developing partners to seek for funds in terms of aides and loans to fund these programs. Such can only be allowed if the funding authorities are sure of the figures given and that their contribution will be channeled to the correct programs (Cheruiyot, 2004).
e) Policy Review
The use of government policy on population review is a key contributing to reducing the alarming rate of population growth rate in Vietnam. However such policies should be changed as they have proved not to be that effective. The government directive and policy on two children limit has not produced very positive results on its purpose (Inhorn, 2009). Recent surveys have shown that the population is still increasing at an alarming rate with the average fertility rate standing at about twice these figure 3.8 children. New policies should be developed that will ensures adherence to family planning. Tougher sanctions and legal actions should be put in place to ensure that the population growth is controlled. The punitive measures should be with severe consequences to ensure that they are observed to the latter (Ruoth, 2009).
f) Constant Review of the Programs
Constant review of the population control should be made to ensure that the changes that are in the population are checked. The application of the programs should be in line with the changes that are characterized by the constant review and analysis of the population status at a particular time. This will ensure that the current methods applied in the family planning are up to date with the current societal status. Change in cultural practices for example will call for a change in the methods applied in family planning. To get the correct data on the new developments that concern the population index the government together with other development partners need to ensure that correct data is obtained.
Constant review of the programs is important to ensuring that the programs are specifically tailored to problems that face these programs. This specification could be on the basis of Geographical location, Educational levels, Age, health status or even gender. This is due to the nature of the population figures and trends that will always be subject to change with the change in the existing environment (Knudsen, 2006).
Given the state of Vietnam and its population growth rate, the need for control of the growth rate is high. This will be inevitable if the country has to achieve its development goals and at the same time avoid social problems and ills that could arise from overpopulation. In dealing with these issues the government of Vietnam has to work with various stakeholders to ensure that all the methods being pushed for by the government and other agencies are well taken. It will also be wrong when the government imagines that it can force policies into its citizens. As such their need to have the good will from the Vietnamese in taking up the family planning measures. As such proper training mechanism and awareness programs should be carried out to ensure there’s this goodwill that will make the whole process a success.