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In Vietnam, abortion uptake is high at 2.5 per woman, but contraceptive uptake is low.
One reason for this is that myths and conservative attitudes around contraception are widely held, particularly among young people who often assume that it’s only suitable for married couples or those in long-term relationships.
Abortion cannot be avoided in every circumstance, and should always remain as a safe way for a woman to end an unwanted pregnancy. However, we’re also working hard in Vietnam to educate people on preventing unintended pregnancy in the first place - through using modern methods of contraception.
Marie Stopes Vietnam began in 1989 as one of the first international reproductive health NGOs in the country. It is now our largest programme in the Pacific Asia region.
In 2016 alone, our team in Vietnam reached over 1.8 million clients.
Since launching in Vietnam our programme has focused on reaching the most disadvantaged and marginalised in the country, successfully implementing sexual and reproductive health services for poor rural women, ethnic minority groups, migrants, sex workers, and young people.
Today it remains one of Marie Stopes International’s highest impact programs. In 2016 alone, our team in Vietnam reached over 1.8 million clients through:
For over a decade Marie Stopes Vietnam has also been establishing corporate social responsibility partnerships with the manufacturing sector, where we educate factory workers on sexual health, offer voluntary family planning counselling, and provide contraceptive services.
The majority of Vietnam’s factory workers are migrants with low-levels of education and understanding of sexual and reproductive health. Being far from home, and often young, they don’t always know who to turn to or where to go for advice.
These partnerships have been hugely successful, due in part to the fact that it’s the factory workers themselves who do the teaching. After being trained by us as ‘peer educators’ in sexual and reproductive health and attending communication courses, they give advice and information to their colleagues, and also give contraception to women who might otherwise have been too afraid to ask.
Since 2002 Marie Stopes Vietnam has been partnering with the Ministry of Health to help build the capacity of the public health sector, particularly in rural and mountainous regions.
Many rural communities in Vietnam rely on Commune Health Stations (CHS) for all their healthcare needs. Our programme in Vietnam has upgraded hundreds of CHSs and trained the staff in administering quality contraception, client-centred care, and family planning counselling. These ‘Sisterhood Centres’, as they are called, have helped increase the proportion of people accessing both reproductive health services as well as general healthcare services.
The Sisterhood initiative has been so successful that several Provincial People’s Committees have chosen to replicate the model in their own provinces, growing the number of Sisterhood Centres available across the country.
For us, this forms the heart of our strategy in Vietnam. Delivering services on the ground is crucial, but we also want to make sure contraception and safe abortion remains available for the long term.
By helping strengthen the country’s capacity to provide these services, we can reach greater numbers of women and young people, and show the positive impact this has on wider Vietnamese society.