UNICEF in Viet Nam


Viet Nam and the MDGs

Viet Nam has made very impressive progress towards achieving the MDGs and has been successful in meeting some of them – such as MDG 1 on eradication of extreme hunger and poverty – way ahead of the 2015 deadline. Viet Nam is on track to meet several other goals. At the same time, if Viet Nam is to achieve all the MDGs with equity, it is important that progress is sustained, that rising disparities are better targeted, that risks are anticipated and that remaining gaps are addressed.

mdg_1MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Of all the MDGs, Viet Nam has made the most impressive progress on MDG 1 on poverty reduction. From a poverty rate of 58.1 percent in 1990, the country has successfully reduced poverty to an estimated rate of 14.5 percent in 2008 – a reduction of 75 percent. The food poverty rate has been reduced by more than two-thirds, from 24.9 per cent in 1993 to 6.9 per cent in 2008. 

While overall poverty levels have dropped remarkably, wide disparities still exist. For instance, more than half of ethnic minority groups still live below the poverty line. New forms of poverty are also starting to emerge. This includes chronic poverty, urban poverty, child poverty and poor migrants. Tackling these new forms of poverty will require tailored and multi-sectoral approaches that recognize that poverty is about more than just a household’s income level in relation to a monetary-defined poverty line.

mdg_2MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Viet Nam has made significant progress in achieving univeral primary education. In 2009, net enrollment in primary school was 97 per cent and 88.5 per cent of children who enter primary school complete five years of primary education. Of these, over 90 per cent continue to lower secondary education, with no significant differences between regions or between urban and rural areas. Viet Nam also shows good gender parity, with almost half the number of students being female in both primary and secondary education.

To build on these achievements in the next five years, and ensure that the progress will be maintained, several areas need attention, particularly the quality and the cost of education.


MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Viet Nam has been very successful in increasing girls’ participation in education at primary and secondary levels. Girls now represent 48.2% of students enrolled at primary level, 48.1% at lower secondary level, and at upper secondary level 49.1%. And, at present, Viet Nam has one of the highest rates of representation of women in decision making in national parliament in the region: 25.8% of National Assembly deputies are women.

However, Vietnamese women continue to face serious obstacles - including poverty, limited access to higher education and employment opportunities, as well as persistent discriminatory attitudes and behaviour. In addition, persistent son preference and devaluing of girls is demonstrated in the rising sex-ratio at birth, and gender-based violence is acknowledged to be a serious problem in Viet Nam. 

mdg_4MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality

Viet Nam has already achieved the targets for both under-five mortality and infant mortality, with both these rates being halved between 1990 and 2006. The infant mortality rate was reduced from 44.4 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 16 in 2009. The under-five mortality rate has also been reduced considerably, from 58 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 24.4 in 2009. Furthermore, the ratio of children under five who are underweight fell from 25.2 per cent in 2005 to 18.9 per cent in 2009.

To build on these achievements in the next five years, and ensure that child mortality rates continue to improve further, several areas need attention, particularly neonatal mortality and stunting.

mdg_5_altMDG 5: Improve Maternal Health

Maternal mortality has declined considerably over the last two decades, from 233 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2009, with approximately two thirds of this decrease related to safer pregnancy. Good progress has also been made in expanding access to quality reproductive health, including maternal and neonatal health; family planning; increased use of modern contraception; and establishment of stronger programmes, policies and laws for reproductive health and rights, as well as measures to provide quality services to the poor and other vulnerable groups.

Although maternal health has improved substantially, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) has remained unchanged between 2006 and 2009. In order to reach the MDG target of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters (to 58.3 per 100,000 live births) even greater efforts are needed. There are also remaining disparity gaps which are important to address, with the MMR higher in remote and ethnic minority areas.

mdg_6_alt_2MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Viet Nam has made significant improvements in the legal and policy framework in recent years, and has a sound national strategy and plans in place for responding to HIV. The HIV prevalence rate is estimated at 0.28 per cent for all age groups in 2010. The scope of anti-retroviral treatment has expanded from an estimated 30 per cent in 2007 to 53.7 per cent in 2009. Impressive progress on prevention and control of malaria shows that Viet Nam has already achieved the MDG target on malaria control. Viet Nam is also acknowledged to have done a good job in controlling other epidemics such as SARS, H5N1 and H1N1.

Despite progress in some areas and great efforts by the Government to address HIV over the past ten years, the HIV prevalence rate continues to increase. In order to sustain the progress made and scale up measures to halt and reserve the spread of HIV, Viet Nam will need to prioritize funding and focus on the critical areas of HIV prevention and ensure the sustainability of the national response to HIV. 

mdg7_altMDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Viet Nam has shown strong commitment to environmental concerns at the international and policy level, and significant achievements have been made in relation to MDG 7. For example, forest coverage has increased from 27.8 percent in 1990 to about 40 percent in 2010. Today, about 83 per cent of the rural population has access to safe water, up from 30 per cent in 1990.

To build on what has already been achieved, there are several areas which need further attention if Viet Nam is to make even greater progress towards MDG 7, particularly around water and sanitation, and climate change. There are still differences in access to clean water between regions and between rural and urban areas, with the lowest level of access in the Northern mountainous region, Mekong Delta and Central Highlands regions. And Viet Nam is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Already more than one million people in Viet Nam are affected each year by natural disasters, and climatic disasters are set to become worse.

mdg_8MDG 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Poverty reduction and sustainable development are clearly linked to trade, debt relief and aid, better enabled by developing global partnerships. Viet Nam has made major strides in developing global partnerships for development since 2000, including assession to the World Trade Organization, expanded cooperation with ASEAN, a term as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2008-2009), and involvement in a number of new free trade agreements. Ensuring social equity and sustainability of the country's development process will require continued and expanded partnerships in all areas in the coming years.  



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