Neonatal deaths under reported in North Vietnam – study

HONG KONG, March 28 (Reuters) – The number of babies who die within their first 28 days of life in northern Vietnam is four times higher than official figures, a study has found and researchers called for more accurate statistics.

Without proper statistics, the researchers feared Vietnam would be missing out on international aid that is geared towards improving child survival rates.

“Such data would highlight the need for national and international health initiatives and for the provision of sufficient funds to implement them. Without valid statistics, many children could be dying unnecessarily at birth,” they said.

Their findings were published in the latest issue of the open access journal BMC International Health and Human Rights.

“Initiatives by … NGOs will not be backed up by statistics and local authorities will not act to solve a problem they do not perceive they have. On the contrary, local authorities might even encourage under-reporting in order to gain approval and rewards from higher levels,” the researchers in Vietnam and Sweden wrote.

Through surveys and interviews with healthcare workers in Quang Ninh province in northern Vietnam, the researchers found that neonatal mortality stood at 16 for every 1,000 births.

This compared to the official figure of just 4 in 1,000.

In Vietnam, families are responsible for registering newborns within 30 days of birth while those in remote areas must do so within the first 60 days.

But many parents do not see an urgent need to register and those living in remote areas do not have easy access to registrars, according to the report.

Furthermore, Vietnam has a two-child policy and imposes a fine for the third child onwards, which discourages families from registering their children.

Deaths are even less recognised.

“When there is a death, there is no death certificate, and the family seldom registers the event,” according to the report. (Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn)

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSP197194

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