PA Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Vietnam
Although it is true that the life expectancy rates tend to be relatively high in Vietnam, the most common causes of death, although preventable or treatable, have often been somewhat ignored by the country’s health officials and the general public. To get a better understanding of how these health oversights can and are being corrected, the list below states the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Vietnam as well as the efforts being made to enhance rates.

Top 10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Vietnam

  1. Adult Life Expectancy Rates. Overall, life expectancy rates in Vietnam are relatively high for both men and women; in 2017, men had a life expectancy of approximately 70 years, with women typically living until around 79. These numbers are a step up from where life expectancy rates in Vietnam were in 1990. Back then, men were only expected to live until 65 and women until 72. While the current life expectancy rates in Vietnam are impressive, it is still possible to improve them even further by improving the current healthcare system, which as of today, isn’t yet fully equipped to handle the country’s most common causes of death: stroke, heart disease, lung cancer.
  2. Child Mortality. Child mortality rates for children under five-years-old have reached an encouraging low, dropping from 47.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 13 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. Children under the age of one were also more likely to survive in 2017, with 10 deaths per 1,000 live births being the modern mortality rate; another exponential shift from the 35 deaths per 1,000 births observed in 1990.
  3. Emerging Economy. The drop in mortality rates and the increase of life expectancy rate in Vietnam may be due in part to the fact that the country is transitioning from an impoverished nation to a lower middle-income nation. The World Bank describes Vietnam as “one of the most dynamic emerging countries in East Asia”, and for good reason. In 2017, Vietnam reached a record-high GDP of $223.86 billion; an incredible jump from its record-low GDP of $6.29 billion in 1989.
  4. Emerging Middle-Class. Vietnam’s middle-class is projected to expand along with the newly emerging market economy. Currently, the middle-class population only makes up 13 percent of the population as most Vietnamese citizens are under 35 years old. Still, as Vietnam ages, the middle-class is expected to grow and eventually encompass 26 percent of the population by 2026.
  5. Childhood Education. In 2011, 66 percent of children in Vietnam had access to full-day preschool education. In 2016, the percentage grew to 84 percent. Programs like Children of Vietnam are hoping to increase that percentage further by providing education to poor and handicapped children. By providing these marginalized children transportation to schools as well as building more schools, Children for Vietnam hopes to break the cycle of poverty by creating opportunities for lower-class children to advance in society.
  6. Hospital Inadequacies. Despite the aforementioned victories in improving life expectancy rates in Vietnam, there is still much work to be done. The Ministry of Health (MOH) estimated that around 40,000 Vietnamese citizens travel abroad annually for health care, spending around $2 billion in the process. This is because most Vietnamese hospitals are outdated, overcrowded and largely understaffed with qualified medical professionals. Public hospitals in Vietnam rely on state budgets to upgrade their services. Although the budget has increased over the years, it is still insufficient.
  7. Automotive Accidents. Automotive accidents remain in the top 10 most common causes of death in Vietnam despite recent legislation that addresses drunk driving and driving without helmets – since many people drive motorcycles to navigate narrow streets. Road accident fatalities have decreased from 12,000 deaths per year prior to 2012 to below 10,000 deaths per year, but the legislation still has a way to go when it comes to road safety. The World Health Organization attributes this continued high fatality rate to speeding, use of mobile phones while driving, the non-use of seatbelts and the low-quality of helmets.
  8. Tobacco. A major cause of stroke and heart disease in Vietnam is the mass consumption of tobacco products. Over 15.6 million Vietnamese adults (over 15 years old) smoke, with 85 percent smoking daily. In an effort to combat this trend, the government has implemented a special consumption tax on tobacco products that is raised by five percent annually. Despite the good intentions behind the tax, it has somewhat backfired. Because of increasing government taxes on goods, smuggling has become a huge problem in the country. The Ho Chi Minh City-based Vietnam Tobacco Association stated that approximately 1 billion packs of smuggled cigarettes are consumed in the country annually. Many tobacco farmers and workers are suffering as a consequence, with 2018 seeing the loss of 1 million jobs in the field.
  9. Project Vietnam Foundation. The Project Vietnam Foundation (PVNF) is a U.S.-based nonprofit that operates in Vietnamese-American communities in the U.S. and on-site in Vietnam. In Vietnam, their primary focus is to provide medical training programs to impoverished rural areas. PVNF has provided reconstructive surgeries for over 2,050 children in need of cleft lip and palate operations, and PVNF’s volunteer mission program has treated over 93,000 patients who may not have otherwise been able to receive treatment.
  10. The Ho Chi Minh Environmental Sanitation Project. The Thi Nghe used to pose a major sanitation and environmental health threat to the city of Ho Chi Minh. With no effective sewage system, the canal was polluted with human waste and garbage, which would often overflow during the raining seasons into the houses and businesses built on top of the canal. In 2002, what was called the Ho Chi Minh Environmental Sanitation Project was implemented with the goal of cleaning the canal and establishing an underground sewage system. The Project finished in 2011, and with its completion came a revitalization of health. Because of the project, 96,000 households benefit from reduced flooding risks, and 1.2 million people (mainly lower-class) now have a centralized wastewater collection. Fish are returning to the canal, which is proof that the water quality is slowly but surely improving. The city is now requesting that phase two of the project begin, with a loan of $450 million from the World Bank and a goal to finish around 2030.

As these top 10 facts about life expectancy in Vietnam show, although progress is being made for healthcare and safety in the country, there is still much work to be done, especially in impoverished rural areas of the country. Educational programs like the Project Vietnam Foundation are truly key in creating sustainable healthcare systems in the nation, so spreading the word about these nonprofits and volunteer opportunities are essential in aiding the further progression of life expectancy of all Vietnamese citizens.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr