2Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
3Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Background Maternal health remains a central policy concern in Vietnam. With a commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 target of maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 70/100 000 by 2015, the Ministry of Health (MoH) issued the National Plan for Safe Motherhood (NPSM) 2003-2010. In 2008, reproductive health, including safe motherhood (SM) became a national health target program with annual government funding.
Methods A case study of how SM emerged as a political priority in Vietnam over the period 2001-2008, drawing on Kingdon’s theory of agenda-setting was conducted. A mixed method was adopted for this study of the NPSM.
Results Three related streams contributed to SM priority in Vietnam: (1) the problem of high MMR was officially recognized from high-quality research, (2) the strong roles of policy champion from MoH in advocating for the needs to reducing MMR as well as support from government and donors, and (3) the national and international events, providing favorable context for this issue to emerge on policy agenda.
Conclusion This paper draws on the theory of agenda-setting to analyze the Vietnam experience and to develop guidance for SM a political priority in other high maternal mortality communities.