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Inequality a threat to goals

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UN officials discuss what the nation can do to achieve the remaining Millennium Development Goals and maintain the five it has reached.

john_hendraJohn Hendra, UN Resident Co-ordinator

I think Viet Nam faces some very specific challenges which have the potential to undermine the achievement of Viet Nam's development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

First, we are seeing signs of rising inequality in cities like Ha Noi and HCM City, and this is starting to come through in some key indicators, such as measures of income inequality, as well.

A second challenge relates to the quality and affordability of social services such as health and education. The Vietnamese pay very high out of pocket costs for these services compared to other countries in the region. The quality of these services is also a concern and we are seeing better off families going overseas for health care and sending their children to overseas universities as well. As a middle-income country, Viet Nam now needs to focus not only on the availability of services, but ensuring access to quality social services for its entire people.

Viet Nam also faces challenges in consolidating the gains made so far, in particular in the context of the recent economic downturn, which has impacted on food security and driven up food prices, with disproportionate impacts on the poor. Climate change also poses threats to MDG achievement, as natural disasters, together with economic shocks, can have a very immediate impact on those living close to, or just above, the poverty line.

Finally, although governance is not explicitly mentioned in the MDGs, it is fundamental to achieving MDG targets and goals, as recognised in the Millennium Declaration. The draft of Viet Nam's ten year Socio-Economic Development Strategy for 2011 – 20 clearly outlines Viet Nam's commitment to strengthen its governance system and institutions. However, Viet Nam still faces challenges in developing policies which are evidence-based, in implementation and monitoring of policy and legislative frameworks as well as in broader institutional development and public administration reform. These are also critical issues in a rapidly changing environment as Viet Nam is now a middle-income country and will continue to face increasingly complex challenges which require a cross-government, multi-sectoral response, such as climate change.

Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Country Director

It will be the result of increased efforts that Viet Nam may reach the goal on HIV/AIDS. Viet Nam is doing a lot now but it will need to do even more to meet goal number six. There are a number of issues that Viet Nam will need to look at. The MDGs, that we often call AIDS plus MDGs, particularly MDG number four (reduce child mortality) and five (improve maternal health), and the link between these should be seen to be done together: prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, access for women to healthcare services that they need during their maternal period, and children do not need to be born with HIV in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam will need to scale up significantly prevention activities to achieve the MDG. Every US$1 invested now in prevention will save US$8 in treatment costs later. This is a significant saving for Viet Nam in the context that the global economic situation means less and less international assistance for development issues, including HIV. In Viet Nam now, 90 per cent of funding for HIV prevention comes from the international community. That is not sustainable.

Viet Nam needs to reprioritise some of its activities. There are a number of activities which are very expensive and provide low impacts. So Viet Nam could reprioritise resources from them to put them into low cost and highly effective activities.

The rate of access to treatment is now 54 per cent. It's a significant increase – three times over the figure it was three years ago. So Viet Nam has made major efforts in trying to achieve this goal.

But we also need to maintain MDG 1 because there are more and more families affected by HIV, which might force some back into poverty.

We need to include civil society. The programme will not be done by the Government alone. The Government needs to draw the resources of private sectors and civil society more widely to deal with this.

A lot of HIV-related issues in Viet Nam are sensitive, such as issues around sex work or drug use. This is actually discouraging people from accessing the very services that they need. They are not brave enough to access social services or healthcare services in Viet Nam because of fear of stigma and discrimination. We really see that in many children living with HIV/AIDS not being able to access education as stipulated by Vietnamese law. We still hear the language of social evils being used. We need to address this and change some of these attitudes... so that we move away from this fear-based approach and achieve a sustainable response.

Suzette Mitchelle, UNIFEM Country Representative

The representation of women at the National Assembly is 25.8 per cent, which is actually one of the highest in the Asian region. But as you go further down, the representation of women is getting lower. Women constitute 16.27 per cent of the total officials in charge at the communal level. So although we can claim that Viet Nam is leading on representation of women at national level, once we go down to communal level, we'll see a very different picture. So there is the need to look at issues not just at national level but to go down to much more lower levels, particularly when you're looking at the decision-making role of women.


As reported by Viet Nam News service, 21 September, 2010





1 December 2017

Michel Sidibé
Executive Director of UNAIDS
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

This World AIDS Day, we are highlighting the importance of the right to health and the challenges that people living with and affected by HIV face in fulfilling that right.


Community spaces design contest for an exciting hanoi

Ha Noi, October 17/10/2017 - Aiming at improving the living environment and bringing culture and art to the community towards a better urban future, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) successfully developed the project “Promote participatory, community-based and youth-led approach in safe, greening public spaces in Hoan Kiem district toward a pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable urban development” (hereinafter called Public Spaces project) under the Block by Block program with Mojang, the makers of the videogame Minecraft.


Deadline for round 1: From 17/10/2017 to 04/11/2017 Extended to 9 November 2017


Harsh punishment for child offenders doesn’t prevent further criminality

The age at which a child, can be held criminally liable is a controversial issue around the world. Within Viet Nam, this issue is currently being grappled with in the Penal Code amendments. Some argue that a "get tough on crime" approach is necessary to punish children to prevent further criminality.

However, international research shows that because of their developmental stages, labelling and treating children as criminals at an early age can have serious negative impacts on their development and successful rehabilitation.


New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December


Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride.  But we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

There has been real progress in tackling the disease. More people than ever are on treatment.  Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother to child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS related causes each year.  And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030.  Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother to child transmission is now available to more than 75 per cent of those in need.