HCMC couples urged to make more babies

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A couple buy a toy for their son in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. The city had the lowest birth rate in the country at 1.33 children per couple in 2012. Photo: Nghia Pham

After decades of efforts to control its booming population, Vietnam, for the first time, is now encouraging parents to give birth to more children.

Vietnam is the 13th most populated country in the world with nearly 90 million people.

"I officially recommend that each Ho Chi Minh City couple have two children," Duong Quoc Trong, director of the Population Family Planning Department under the Heath Ministry, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He said the birth rate has significantly decreased in HCMC and other southern cities and provinces.

HCMC had the lowest birth rate in the country at 1.45 children per couple in 2009. The rate was 1.3 in 2011 and 1.33 in 2012.

The national rate is 2.06 children per couple.

Trong said most couples in HCMC have only one child. Those with two children make up a small proportion of the city population, he said.

The city's population reached nearly 7.4 million people in 2012, excluding more than one million migrant workers.

At a conference last March in Hanoi, the General Office for Population Family Planning said Vietnam has managed to decrease its fertility rate from 6.36 in 1960-64 to 2.05 in 2011-12.

It said Vietnam is seeing an "obvious" decline in its fertility rate which is expected fall to 1.78 births per woman in 2020.

The rate rises to 2.14-3 for rural women with low levels of education, it said.

Trong said there is a tendency to delay having babies and women also tend to stop having babies before they reach 35.

Experts said at the conference that another reason for the decline is rising infertility.

Nguyen Van Tan, Trong's deputy, said a 2011 study by the Vietnam Military Medical University found nearly 3.2 percent of over 9,300 married couples surveyed were infertile.

Another study by the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Hanoi Medical University's obstetrics department last year found that 7.7 percent of more than 14,000 couples could not conceive.

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