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Health ministry wants two-child policy relaxed
Hoang Nhung
Friday,  Jan 13, 2017,20:39 (GMT+7)

Health ministry wants two-child policy relaxed

Hoang Nhung

HCMC – Concerned about the high possibility of population ageing in near future, the Ministry of Health has proposed relaxing the two-child policy in the draft population law.

The draft law, which has been sent to the Ministry of Justice for comment, presents two options for population planning: first, permitting couples and individuals to decide on the number of children they want to have but to an acceptable extent, and second, keeping the current two-child policy in place.

If the two-child policy is maintained, the population will age and the economy will face a labor shortage crisis in the next 5 to 10 years, said Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the Department of Legislation under the Health Ministry.

The current birth rate varies greatly among regions, cities and provinces. In certain places, the birth rate is far below replacement level, according to data of the ministry.

For example, the rate is 1.45 children per woman of childbearing age in HCMC and 1.56 in Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Meanwhile, in most of the northern midland and mountainous provinces, the average fertility rate is 2.5 and the highest is 3.11 in Lai Chau.

In each stage, each region or locality needs a certain policy to maintain replacement level fertility. In other words, the birth rate should be brought down in places where it is high and vice versa.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health has proposed permitting couples and individuals to responsibly decide on when to give birth, spacing between pregnancies and number of children, or maintaining the two-child policy, except for special cases prescribed by the Government.

Quang said the first option would be applied in a flexible manner. In addition to giving them discretion, the State should encourage couples and individuals to give birth to up to two children.

That the Ministry of Health supports the relaxation of the population planning policy does not mean couples can give birth at will. The first option should be properly interpreted as adjusting the number of births in line with replacement level fertility or easing birth control.

Flexibility does not mean the population planning policy for a mountainous province would be applicable to Hanoi or HCMC, Quang said.

All cities and provinces must have proper adjustments to meet replacement level fertility, instead of permitting each couple and individual to have 3 to 4 children.

Quang believed the first option would work as the birth rate is in decline while infertility tends to rise.

It is expected that the draft population law would go before the Government in the first quarter of next year and be forwarded to the Standing Committee of the National Assembly during the session in June 2018 before it is presented to the National Assembly in October 2018.

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