Vietnam has achieved the fastest reduction in child malnutrition in the region with an average annual decline of 1.5 percent, according to the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Malnutrition rates in children under five (in terms of weight) fell from 44 percent in 1994 to just over 20 percent in 2008, 18 percent in 2009 and 17 percent in 2010.
Luu Thi Hong, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Department of Maternal and Child Health, said Vietnam fulfilled the national target of reducing malnutrition rates to below 20 percent in 2010, two years ahead of schedule.
The rapid decline in maternal and child mortality rates has also been sustained. The mortality rate of children under 12 months dropped two-thirds from 0.44 percent in 1990 to 0.16 percent in 2008, two years earlier than anticipated by Vietnam’s millennium development goals.
Despite significant achievements, maternal and child healthcare still faces a number of challenges, such as disparity between regions, high infant mortality rates and increasing levels of child obesity. Maternal and child mortality rates recorded in mountain areas, for example, are more than three times higher than those in lowland areas.