World Population Day Discusses the Unfinished Business on Population and Development Issues
11 July 2019
“Maternal Deaths dropped more than 5 times, now there are almost 2,500 midwives and most of them are deployed in rural and hard-to-reach areas of Laos! Tremendous progress we have seen since the adoption of ICPD” said H.E Mrs Khamchanh Vongsaenboun, Vice Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment at the World Population Day 2019.
The World Population Day 2019 was held on 11 July 2019 in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR under the theme “UNFINISHED BUSINESS - the pursuit rights and choices FOR ALL”. The event was chaired by H.E Mrs Khamchanh Vongsaenboun, Vice Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment and Ms Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative in Laos.
Led by Ministry of Planning and Investment, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Lao PDR, the celebration this year also marks the 25th anniversary of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The government of Lao PDR commemorates the anniversary by highlighting the progress made over the past 25 years and to discuss the “Unfinished Business” of ICPD so as to strengthen partnerships accelerate implementation of the ICPD agenda.
25 years ago, World leaders from 179 countries gathered in Cairo to discuss population and development in the first International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Whereas earlier, the focus was on numbers based population growth, ICPD made a monumental shift by placing reproductive health and rights of women and girls and the well-being of the population at the center of the population and development agenda. Lao Government adopted ICPD Pogramme of Action (PoA) and has been implementing it with a focus on the well-being of women and girls.
Laos was one of three countries that had the fastest reduction in maternal deaths. In 1990, 1,100 mothers died while giving birth, whereas, in 2015 it decreased to 206 per 100,000 live births.
In 2009, the Lao Midwifery Programme was launched and now over 1,800 skilled midwives are deployed in the country. Midwives are trained to provide sexual reproductive health and family planning services as well assist in childbirth.
In 2000, unmet need for contraceptives among married women was almost 40% by 2017 it decreased to 14%.
Youth friendly sexual reproductive health services are rolling out nationwide.
Quality national data, disaggregated by age and sex is available through the Census 2015, LSIS I and LSIS II, and other survey instruments.
More girls and boys complete primary school than before and government successfully integrated CSE (comprehensive sexuality education) into teaching curriculums for secondary school and TVET (Technical, Vocational and Educational Training).
In 2016, Lao Government launched the "Noi" Framework, which highlights the needs of adolescent girls so that community and policy makers can understand the urgency to invest more on young people especially adolescent girls who are most likely to be left out of major planning and financial decisions.
However, challenges remain
The maternal mortality ratio in Lao PDR remains challenging among in ASEAN region. Communities that are not easy to reach, without road access, are still facing challenge in receiving quality social services in education and health.
Young girls face a burden of household chores, have higher rates of secondary school drop outs and consequently tend to get married and fall pregnant while still being children themselves. Almost 83 per 1,000 girls have given birth to their first child before turning 18.
Research shows 75% of unmarried young girls aged 15-19 cannot access to modern contraceptives and 30% of women reported having experienced violence but support and services are needed improvement and strengthened for them.
Investing financial and technical resources in prevention efforts to address the above is a pressing need for Laos to meet its socio economic ambitions while improving equity and well-being of the men, women and young people. Achieving the ICPD agenda is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs. ICPD Programme of Action contributes directly to SDG Goals such as SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5 Gender Equality, SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and impacts other SDGs too.
Without this investment, equitable sustainable growth will be slower and may leave behind a significant group pf the population.
“As the lead entity for planning in Laos, Ministry of Planning and Investment is on the process of enhancing policies, evidence and data availability in support of delivering the unfinished business of ICPD." Added by Vice Minister of Planning and Investment.
“This November, the world will gather once again at the Nairobi Summit to discuss the unfinished business of ICPD. Let us innovate, collaborate and commit to bring solutions to the challenges that remain" Said by Ms. Mariam A. Khan, Representative of UNFPA Lao PDR.
2019 also marks 50th anniversary of UNFPA, the Government of Lao PDR acknowledge UNFPA's contribution and to assure the promise of ICPD. H.E Mrs Khamchanh Vongsaenboun, Vice Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment, handed over certificate of appreciation to UNFPA in Lao PDR, highlighting strong partnership and outstanding achievement in reducing maternal deaths, especially through the Midwifery Programme and expansion of Family Planning programme across the country.
Vice minister added "Hope UNFPA and partners can continue to work together and help all girls represented by Noi to be educated, skilled and empowered women by 2030".
Led by MPI, representatives present at the event from line Ministries, CSOs, bilateral and private sectors signed on commitment wall to commit their engagement to zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for contraceptives and zero gender based violence by 2030.
UNFPA is the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency. It is the leading agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly maternal health, in over 150 countries, as well as working to end harmful practices such as child marriage, and supporting population data collection and analysis.