After years of economic growth, Vietnam’s population reached about 95 million in 2017 (up from about 60 million in 1986). Currently, Vietnam has a median age of 30.5 years, with a life expectancy of close to 76 years.

Absolute poverty rates have been reduced from 47 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015. Literacy rates among people 15 years and older rose from 83 percent in 1990 to more than 95 percent in 2015.

From 1990 to 2015, the maternal mortality rate fell from 233 to 58.3 deaths per 100,000 live births and infant mortality dropped from 44 deaths per 1000 live births to 15—with no difference between male and female infants. Stunting has also significantly decreased over this period.

With rapid socio-economic improvement, Vietnam now faces both new and traditional health challenges. Non-communicable diseases have been the leading causes of death in the country, as risk factors such as smoking, harmful alcohol use, obesity and physical inactivity rise, and the population ages. Top 10 causes of death still include infectious diseases like HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and diarrhoeal diseases.

Image: PhD student Leanna Surrao conducts training for local health workers.


Burnet Institute researchers are playing a key role in a unique study aimed at malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong Region, where a steady rise in drug-resistant malaria is a serious problem. Led by Dr Jack Richards, the Burnet team has been working with local scientists and health workers along the Vietnam-Cambodia border in the use of highly sensitive tests that can detect low levels of malaria, as well as developing enhanced mapping and surveillance systems to detect hot spots of transmission.

Contact Details

For more information about our work in Vietnam, please contact:

Burnet Institute




Current Projects

  • Gender Counts

  • Impact of declining transmission on immunity and risk of malaria rebound

  • Rapid review of maternal health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific