Social Highlights for November 28

2kg of meth seized at international airport

Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City seized 2kg of methamphetamine being smuggled into Viet Nam yesterday. The contraband was hidden in the luggage of a 31-year-old Vietnamese woman.

Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City seized 2kg of methamphetamine being smuggled into Viet Nam yesterday. The contraband was hidden in the luggage of a 31-year-old Vietnamese woman.

The suspect and the confiscated drugs were handed over to the city’s Drug-related Crime Investigation Unit (PC47).

The Tan Son Nhat Airport Customs Department has so far this year uncovered 10 drug trafficking cases, detaining 14 suspects and seizing 25.6kg of drugs worth nearly VND85 billion (US$4 million).

Second baby dies, doctor suspended

A 16-month-old baby died after receiving injections for pneumonia from doctor Pham Anh Son, head of Ha Noi’s Thuong Tin General Hospital’s Paediatrics Department, at an unlicensed private clinic he ran from his home.

Son received a 15-day suspension from working at the hospital while police continued with their investigation into the death after the child reacted fatally to the serums Ceftriaxone 1g and Solu-Medrol 40mg.

Speaking at a conference held yesterday, Nguyen Huu Luan, head of Thuong Tin District’s Health Office, said that according to Son’s report, he administered the injections to the child last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Son reported that he tested the infant for drug reaction for Ceftriaxon 1g but not for Solu-Medrol 40mg.

The baby died last Wednesday on the way to Nong Nghiep Hospital after turning pale and foaming at the mouth.

Deputy Director of Ha Noi Health Department Nguyen Van Dung said the department would discipline the doctor, once the police investigation was completed.

Earlier in June, another baby died after being injected with the same medicines at the clinic, but the case was quickly silenced after the victim’s family agreed to reconcile with the doctor, he said.

The clinic was fined VND17.5 million (US$830) and ordered to close its doors, but Son continued to illegally operate his home clinic.

Tran Thi Nhi Ha, head of the Health Department’s private medical practitioner management office, said that under regulations private health clinics were not allowed to inject children, except in cases of emergency.

“Even if Son’s clinic was issued operating license, he still violated regulations,” she said.

Son would have his medical license revoked and receive penalty, she added. The department planned to inspect all private health clinics to end malpractice in the city.

Students campaign against HIV/AIDS

Hanoi students club has launched a week-long campaign on HIV/AIDS prevention and control from November 23-30.

The annual event attracts a large number of students to various activities, such as bike ride, exchanges with the homosexual community and people living with HIV, free medical check-ups, and handout of information leaflets on the fatal disease.

The campaign encourages the participation of people, particularly youngsters, in the fight against HIV/AIDS to help HIV carriers enjoy better care and reintegrate into the community.

Social organzations play an important role in implementing national programmes on HIV/AIDS prevention and control.

In Vietnam, each day has 29 people infected by the fast spread of HIV in many localities, especially among high-risk groups – drug addicts, prostitutes, and homosexuals.

Spectroscopy conference opens

An International Conference on Spectroscopy and Applications was opened in the central city of Da Nang yesterday.

Over 70 professors, scientists and researchers from France, Germany, India, the US, Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia and Viet Nam attended the four-day event.

As many as 40 reports on spectroscopic studies, including new materials and nano-technology will be presented at the conference.

The annual meeting will help local scientists and researchers to approach new technologies and innovations and boost co-operation between Viet Nam and the world of science.

RoK helps Vietnam build health insurance policy

Insurance agencies of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) worked closely together to implement a project to enhance Vietnam’s capacity in building a policy on health insurance and the management of health insurance in Vietnam.

The result of the project, which was carried out during 2012-2013, was reviewed at a workshop held in Hanoi on November 26.

Implemented with 800,000 USD funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the project aims to assist Vietnam in renovating its health insurance regulations, towards developing the model of universal health coverage in the country.

Speaking at the workshop, Deputy Minister of Public Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen praised the RoK’s successes in deploying the model of universal health coverage in the country over the last 12 years, saying that the model is a valuable experience for Vietnam as well as other countries in the world to follow.

She said she hopes that Vietnam will make use of the project’s results to develop the country’s policy on health insurance and management in the field.

Representatives from the ministry affirmed that the RoK’s experience in the field will help Vietnam modify and supplement its Law on Health Insurance, while innovating measures to promote the model of universal health coverage and enhance the health insurance examination work in the country.

The project’s general report on health insurance policy also provided Vietnam with a useful reference to further foster the development of the field in Vietnam, they said.

Vietnamese and RoK participants expressed their hope that through the project, relations in the health insurance sector will be established between the two countries in the future.

The two sides’ representatives pledged to continue sharing experiences in universal health insurance, managing the price of pharmaceuticals, building the list of medicine for health insurance and improving health insurance examinations in the field.

China-Vietnam Youth Gala enlivens youngsters

The second China-Vietnam Youth Gala opened on November 26 in Nanning City, the capital city of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping sent congratulatory letters to the event.

The event saw the attendance of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee President Nguyen Thien Nhan, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, and nearly 10,000 youngsters of both countries.

Speaking at the event, Nhan said Vietnam always places importance to developing relations with China, asserting Vietnam’s determination together with China to realise agreements reached by both sides’ high-ranking leaders, looking to a fine and stable relationship for the sake of both peoples and for regional and international peace, stability and prosperity.

He stressed the festival is held given the positive developments in the two nations’ friendship and cooperation. It offers chances for the youngsters to recall the Vietnam-China traditional friendship and enliven sentiments between the two sides’ youths, contributing to making the ties between the two Parties and States blossom.

He called on the two countries’ communist youth unions to further their practical cooperation to forge the traditional friendship between both nations’ young generations.

The Chinese Vice President reiterated that China-Vietnam relations are a property shared by the two peoples, voicing his hope that both countries will forever act as good neighbours, friends, comrades and partners.

He also called on both sides’ youths to be consistent in the time-tested friendship, pass on the baton of friendly relations from generation to generation, and join hands in creating a bright future for the countries.

Following the success of the first Vietnam-China Youth Gala, the second event has bettered the young generations’ understanding of the importance of the Vietnam-China comprehensive cooperation and friendship to each country’s development as well as regional peace, friendship and mutual development.

Both sides considered this year’s event as a landmark for their peoples and youths, becoming a strong momentum for people-to-people exchanges in the time to come.

Within the festival, Vietnamese youngsters joined in such activities as tree planting, painting, writing calligraphy and visiting some Chinese people.

Vietnam, Lao fronts swap professional knowledge

The Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF)’s Lai Chau province chapter on November 26 held talks with the Lao Front for National Construction of three northern provinces, Phongsaly, OudomXay and LuangPrabang.

Addressing the event, Tan Van Pao, president of the provincial VFF chapter, said the exchange creates a venue for the parties to share professional knowledge, along with improving mutual trust and understanding and cementing the special solidarity between Vietnam and Laos in general and among the four localities in particular.

Delegates talked about major issues relating to the front’s work such as Vietnam’s policies on national solidarity, the VFF’s mobilisation for cultural life building in residential areas and “Day for Poor People”.

On this occasion, the Lao delegates paid field trips to the President Ho Chi Minh statue, Lai Chau town, and a pilot new rural area in Tam Duong district.

Central Highland religious activities under scrutiny

The Central Highlands Regional Steering Committee and the Government Committee for Religious Affairs have organised a conference reviewing religious affairs in the Central Highlands region and the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

According to the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, the four majority religions in the Central Highlands and Binh Phuoc—Catholicism, Buddhism, Protestantism, and Caodaism—have more than 2.1 million followers.

Local authorities have consistently allowed religious people to practice their beliefs and build communal worshipping areas in line with regulations.

In his speech, Government Religious Affairs Committee Deputy Head Bui Thanh Ha asked localities to ensure religious activity regulations are up to date and properly enforced. Any emerging issues should be addressed as soon as possible.

Ha also underlined the need for specific legislation on land management, construction, and religious affairs.

International forum on spectrum imaging and its applications

The central city of Danang’s Duy Tan University has hosted a November 26 international conference on spectrum imaging and its many applications.

The event attracted 20 professors and doctors from France, Japan, India, Germany, the US, China, Russia, Italy, Laos, and the Republic of Korea, who joined more than 50 of Vietnam’s own leading spectra scientists.

The conference introduced the international research community’s latest projects and discussed development issues related to spectrum imaging, nano-materials, photogrammetry, and cooperation between international and Vietnamese scientists.

Vietnamese researchers outlined their current spectrum-based investigations, capitalizing on the opportunity to consult with some of the world’s leading spectrum experts.

The conference encouraged scientists to expand international cooperation and work to ensure their research results are applied to advance the industrialization and modernization processes.

Vietnam-Australia Vision Support sees results in Ba Ria-Vung Tau

The Ba Ria-Vung Tau provincial People’s Committee, coordinating with Australia’s Brien Holden Vision Institute, organised a November 26 meeting reviewing the results of its Vietnam-Australia Vision Support Project during the 2007-2013 period.

According to a 2007-2010 survey, as many as 25.6% of local high school children suffered refractive eye defects.

The Vietnam-Australia Vision Project has seen more than 40,000 students at 56 schools in Xuyen Moc and Dat Do districts and Ba Ria-Vung Tau City receive eye tests and treatment in the first two years of implementation.

More than 4,800 disadvantaged students were given free glasses. Ninety-seven teachers and 142 health workers have completed eye care training courses.

The Vietnam-Australia Vision Support Project has successfully involved the community in eye healthcare, assisting local efforts to reduce poverty and ensure social welfare.

At the conclusion of the current project, the Brien Holden Vision Institute will fund the establishment of five community eye care units in the province’s remaining localities.

WB aids HCM City flood prevention

The World Bank (WB) has pledged US$600 million in funding to flood prevention and control projects in HCM City.

The commitment was announced after November 26 meeting between representatives from the WB, the HCM City People’s Committee, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

HCM City Vice Mayor Nguyen Trung Tin warned the city faces a severe flooding risk exacerbated by rising tides, water discharge, and torrential rains.

Five HCM City areas are especially vulnerable to flooding, including Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe, Kenh Doi-Kenh Te, Ben Nghe-Tau Hu, Tan Hoa-Lo Gom, and Tham Luong-Ben Cat. Floods damage city property worth an estimated VND5,000 billion (roughly US$234 million) every year.

The WB will use its resources to help HCM City’s flood research and evaluation efforts in the interests of improving authorities’ natural disaster responses.

The bank is currently assisting the city’s Tan-Hoa-Lo Gom anti-flood project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.

Vietnam, China to better popularisation, training

Senior Vietnamese and Chinese Party officials have shared experiences to better conduct popularisation and training.

The agreement was reached at a working session in Beijing between Deputy Head of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee’s Commission for Popularisation and Education Pham Van Linh and Permanent Vice Minister Luo Shugang and Vice Minister Wang Xiaohui of the Communist Party of China Central Committee’s Propaganda Department.

The working session was part of the Vietnamese official’s visit to China from November 20-25.

Both sides touched upon urgent issues that need to be addressed, education and means of sustainable development.

They highly valued the fruitful outcomes of the bilateral agreement on their cooperation mechanism, stressing that it is crucial to strengthening mutual understanding as well as press and publishing connections.

Linh said he hopes the agreement will maintain progress while visits by journalists will be facilitated so as to educate young generations about the traditional friendship and all-around links between Vietnam and China.

The hosts informed Linh of the consensus reached at the third plenum of the 18 th National Congress of the CPC, ways to raise public awareness of resolutions and management in press and publishing.

Luo expressed his hope that during the 2014 theoretical workshop between the two Parties in Vietnam, both sides will acquire helpful experience in Party build-up, theoretical research and popularisation and training.

As part of the visit, the Vietnamese delegation worked with CPC officials, authorities and their counterparts in the cities of Nanjing, Changzhou and Shanghai and several Chinese press agencies, during which they learnt about their experience in Party work, personnel training and cooperation between their localities and Vietnamese partners.

Deputy PM asks to clarify huge heroin trafficking case

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked relevant ministries and authorities to investigate the trafficking of 600 heroin cakes from Vietnam to Taiwan detected and confiscated by Taiwanese authorities.

Phuc, who is also head of the National Committee for AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control, on November 26 requested the Ministry of Public Security to work with related agencies at home and abroad to promptly identify the origin of the heroin.

It was also asked to join force with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance to apply effective measures to discover drug trafficking cases via maritime and air routes and at airports, border gates and sea ports.

The Deputy PM also assigned the General Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance and the Aviation Civil Authority under the Ministry of Transport to clarify their responsibilities in the case and take measures to prevent drug trafficking to and from Vietnam by air.

Taiwan police said on November 17 they had confiscated 600 heroin cakes totalling 229kg discovered in 12 amplifier boxes in a container transported by air from Vietnam.

They said they had arrested eight people and were pursuing other suspects.

Under Article 194 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, offenders who illegal stockpile, transport, trade or appropriate heroin or cocaine weighing 100 grams or more shall be sentenced to death.

Deputy Minister: Vietnam prioritises child protection

Vietnam’s child helpline, 18001567, which was set up in 2009, has received nearly 1.5 million calls with 2,500 connected with emergency protection and aid services.

Children suffering from psychological trauma, violence and sex abuse have benefited from the helpline.

Deputy Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) Doan Mau Diep made the point at the policy dialogue and regional consultation for child helplines in Asia-Pacific that opened in Hanoi on November 26.

The event was co-organised by the MOLISA’s Child Care and Protection Department and Child Helpline International (CHI) with the participation of representatives from 24 regional countries and territories.

It evaluated the operation of such helplines in the region and the world in general as well as their impacts on national child protection systems.

The State of Vietnam has always considered child protection, care and education as leading tasks, Diep said.

He cited the National Assembly’s issuance of the Law on Child Protection, Care and Education in 2004 and the legislature’s ongoing amendments to the law in a bid to handle related challenges.

The Vietnamese Government has also ratified three programmes of actions towards Vietnamese children during the periods of 1991-2000, 2001-2010 and 2011-2020, he said.

Vietnam has created conditions for children to raise their voice and propose initiatives to promote their rights, Diep said, citing the biennial Vietnamese children’s forum, where children frankly talk with NA and Government leaders.

CHI Executive Director Nenita La Rose said child helplines in Asia-Pacific and the world at large have served as important bridges linking national child protection services.

Through the helplines, children have raised issues of their concern and received timely support, she said.

CHI statistics show that between 2008 and 2012, the number of calls to the helplines ballooned by about 20 percent, she said, adding that governments should increase resources and capacity for such services.

Child Helpline International is the global network of 173 child helplines in 142 countries (as of October 2012). It supports the creation and strengthening of national toll-free child helplines worldwide, and uses child helpline data and knowledge to highlight gaps in child protection systems and advocate the rights of children.-

Australia trains Vietnamese postgraduates

As many as 155 Vietnamese graduates, including three from ethnic minority groups and five with disability, will pursue a higher education programme in Australia from January, 2014.

Under the Australian Government’s Development Scholarships Programme, they will be trained in the fields of gender equality, human rights, economics, education, disabled people, infrastructure, environment, health and rural development.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Hugh Borrowman congratulated the students at a farewell function in Hanoi on November 26.

Vietnam and Australia have recently signed an agreement on education cooperation, hoping to greatly benefit both sides’ socio-economic development.

The Development Scholarships programme grants about 400 scholarships a year to Vietnamese students, which account for one third of Australia’s annual non-refundable aid to Vietnam.

Holland shares food safety expertise with Vietnam

The Netherlands shared its experiences in food safety management with Vietnam during a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on November 26.

It discussed the European country’s knowledge of running food safety managerial agencies, measures to carry out this model in Vietnam, and good practice regulations in the food supply chain.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said that Vietnam owns favourable conditions for agriculture production and pays attention to improving farm produce quality and competitiveness.

However, it mainly exports raw produce while shortcomings still exist in food quality and hygiene, thus reducing the value of its products. Therefore, Holland ‘s experiences will help Vietnam ‘s agriculture develop and meet international standards, he added.

Dutch Ambassador to Vietnam Joop Scheffers said to solve this problem, producers are required to ensure the quality of materials inputs, and authorities should facilitate the participation of producers and exporters in the supply chain.

The Netherlands is a leading country in agriculture, he said, adding that its experience sharing will better Vietnamese businesses’ understanding of the importance of food safety, which is improved by strictly following all regulations of the supply chain.

At the workshop, the Deputy Minister and the Dutch Ambassador signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the production and value creation for Vietnam ‘s animal husbandry.

The function was organised by the Dutch Embassy and the Food, Agri and Aqua Business Sector Committee under the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

US-based organisation supports Thai Nguyen in water project

The US-based non-governmental organisation East Meets West and the northern province of Thai Nguyen on November 26 inked an agreement on a non-refundable aid for a clean water and environmental sanitation project in the locality.

The 687,510 AUD (627,600 USD) water, sanitation and hygiene output-based aid project will be carried out to 2017.

Of the total, 500,000 AUD (456,400 USD) will be spent on expanding and upgrading water facilities while the remainder will be used to improve environmental sanitation.

Relevant agencies such as the provincial Women’s Union and the Bank for Social Policies are assigned to encourage local households to join in the project and to support their access to preferential loans.

There are now 154 centralised water supply facilities in the province, yet some of them haven’t proved effective due to a shortage of capital for upgrading.-

Thua Thien-Hue calls for more foreign development aid

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue has made the most of foreign assistance and helped locals settle their lives with internationally funded projects, a local official has said.

Standing Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Ngo Hoa took centre stage at a workshop in Thua Thien-Hue on November 26 to call for more socio-economic development aid from global and non-governmental organisations, saying that he highly values their past cooperation with the locality.

Since 2005, foreign NGOs have offered Thua Thien-Hue 35 billion VND (1.6 million USD) in aid which went to poverty reduction, environmental protection, capacity enhancement and community development projects, including a European community-funded project that has built 450 storm-resistant houses along Tam Giang-Cau Hai lagoon, a low-lying area.

Others involving tourism promotion, response to climate change and natural disasters have also been financed with hundreds of thousands of USD from Bridge Asia Japan, the Centre for Social Research & Development, and the US Aid Agency for International Development.-

Ho Chi Minh class opened in Russia

A classroom displaying photos, books and newspapers, video and keepsake related to President Ho Chi Minh was opened at the Academy of Labour and Social Relations (ALSR) in Moscow, Russia on November 26.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Ambassador Pham Xuan Son thanked the institute’s management board for setting up the classroom, which will serve as a place for Vietnamese as well as Russian and other foreign students to learn more about the late President.

The diplomat also described the event as an important contribution to strengthening and further deepening the friendship, strategic partnership as well as mutual understanding and trust between the two countries.

On the occasion, he also reviewed the president’s life and career and briefed participants on the important milestones in the traditional friendship between Vietnam and Russia.

Participants expressed their admiration and respect for the late President and the Vietnamese people.

Since 1973, more than 800 Vietnamese students and postgraduates have studied at and graduated from the ALSR, many of them have become leading officials.

Parade demonstrates effort to end violence against women

A meeting in response to the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25) was organised in the northern province of Hai Duong on November 26.

The event, part of a 16-day campaign, was jointly held by the provincial People’s Committee, the United Nations Fund for Population Agency (UNFPA) and the UN Women.

Addressing the meeting, Vice Chairman of the committee Nguyen Van Que said that the number of domestic violence cases in his province has fallen, and timely support has been given to the victims.

These come as a result of its efforts to improve gender equality and curb domestic violence.

Following the meeting, delegates and locals joined in a parade to demonstrate their endeavour to eradicate violence against women and girls.

Within the event’s framework, a photo exhibition depicting the real lives of women living with domestic violence attracted a large number of visitors.

Vietnam, Lao fronts swap professional knowledge

The Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF)’s Lai Chau province chapter on November 26 held talks with the Lao Front for National Construction of three northern provinces, Phongsaly, Oudom Xay and Luang Prabang.

Addressing the event, Tan Van Pao, president of the provincial VFF chapter, said the exchange creates a venue for the parties to share professional knowledge, along with improving mutual trust and understanding and cementing the special solidarity between Vietnam and Laos in general and among the four localities in particular.

Delegates talked about major issues relating to the front’s work such as Vietnam ‘s policies on national solidarity, the VFF’s mobilisation for cultural life building in residential areas and “Day for Poor People”.

On this occasion, the Lao delegates paid field trips to the President Ho Chi Minh statue, Lai Chau town, and a pilot new rural area in Tam Duong district.

Thousands of Thai Binh AO victims reintegrate into community

Thousands of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin victims in Quynh Phu district, the northern province of Thai Binh, have seen their health improve and been able to integrate into the community thanks to a project jointly launched by the Health Ministry and the Hanoi School of Public Health.

Quynh Phu district has more than 8,300 AO victims with over 6,300 of the first generation and 2,000 of the second.

With the largest number of AO victims in Thai Binh, Quynh Phu has been selected as one of the three districts nationwide, together with Son Tinh in the central province of Quang Ngai and Long Thanh in the southern province of Dong Nai, to pilot the project.

Dang Duc To, Head of the district Health Office, said nearly 230 collaborators in 38 towns and communes across the district have participated in the project, adding that each of them has helped rehabilitate 15-20 AO victims and people with disabilities.

Since 2008, up to 3,500 people, including over 300 AO victims, have received regular rehabilitation annually. Nearly 1,400 people, of whom 61 are AO victims, have reintegrated into the community.

The project has expanded its reach to disabled people as each year Quynh Phu district has an additional 150 people with disabilities due to injuries and diseases.

According to Nguyen Duc Hanh, President of the Thai Binh Association of AO Victims, the province has more than 34,000 AO victims with over 3,000 of the second generation.

However, only 21,000 people have, to date, benefited from social allowances.

The model will then be implemented in other seven cities and districts in Thai Binh province, helping improve health for AO victims and people with disabilities.

Use of technology advances vital to development

Applying science and technology advances in agricultural production is vital to help develop the socio-economy in the Mekong Delta, a Government official said on November 26.

Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan made the remark at a conference, which is part of the ongoing Mekong Delta Economic Cooperation Forum (MDEC Vinh Long 2013) in Vinh Long province, to review the operation of science and technology advances application centres nationwide over the year.

According to the ministry, during the 2012-2013 period, up to 60 of the 63 centres conducted more than 200 projects on agriculture, energy, biotechnology, food technology and intellectual property, and finalised 1,851 advisory, service and technology transfer contracts.

Participants held discussions on the application efficiency of the advances in provinces across the country, seeking ways to improve the capacities of the centres.

They reached a consensus on the need for close connections between Mekong Delta localities and relevant ministries in order to map out favourable policies on human resources treatment and training in the field.

Those involved recommended that budget allocated for science and technology development should be spent properly, in parallel with supported policies for technology transfer and application in agriculture.

The same day, scientists and officials from regional institutes and universities had a working session with Minister Quan to seek ways to handle difficulties facing technology transfer and application in economic development such as human resources attraction and facilities building.

They voiced their readiness to provide inter-training programmes to Vinh Long as well as other regional localities.-
International workshop discusses cleft lips and palates
Domestic and foreign health experts discussed cleft lips and palates as well as other congenital abnormalities at an international workshop that opened in Hanoi on November 25.

The event, the eighth of its kind, was co-organised by the Medical University and the International Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation (ICPF).

Addressing the event, Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan blamed disadvantages suffered by children and their parents on the lack of knowledge about advanced medical technologies and outdated prejudices against the condition.

The workshop mirrors the ICPF’s special attention to Vietnam and children with deformities, she said, suggesting delegates focus their discussion on awareness-raising work and the research of new treatment methods.

The Vice President also urged measures to step up international cooperation between countries, including Vietnam, to curb cleft lips and palates, even in foetuses, bringing a better life to children and their families.

She asked domestic delegates to learn from international experience in the treatment and surgery of cleft palates to raise the quality of health services for children in Vietnam.

Statistics reveal that about 14 million people across the world suffer from cleft lip and palate, a common congenital anomaly with birth prevalence ranging from 1/500 to 1/1,000.

In Vietnam, cleft lip and palate ranks second among inborn defects with contraction rate at about 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent.

Apart from appearance, children born with cleft lip and palate may have their linguistic function affected.

According to Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien, cleft lip and palate can be diagnosed before birth. He added that children can fully rehabilitate and reintegrate into the community after surgery.

Carrying the message of the need to stop abortion because of deformities that can be fully treated, the four-day workshop also discussed other congenital abnormalities relating to the jaw and facial bones, ear, nose and throat.-

Solid waste treatment facility built on Ly Son island

Work began on the construction of a household solid waste treatment facility on Ly Son island district, central Quang Ngai province on November 26.

Once becoming operational in the third quarter of 2014, it will be the first ever to operate on an island district in the country.

The facility, located on 2,000 square metres in Rung Go area, which lies between An Vinh and An Hai communes, will be capable of treating 15 tonnes of household solid waste a day for Ly Son and other islands nearby.

Invested by the General Environment Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the over 27 billion VND facility is expected to join in efforts to protect the marine environment in the area.-

Plan designed to upgrade Mekong Delta dykes

A plan has been developed to upgrade the sea and estuary dykes system in the Mekong Delta in response to rising sea levels caused by climate change, according to the Southern Institute for Water Resources Planning (SIWR).

Under the plan, nearly 620km of sea dykes and over 740km of estuary dykes in the region will be upgraded or newly constructed by 2025. They will be six metres wide, with forests outside the dyke to reduce the impact of waves.

Constructions built below dykes are arranged so as to prevent natural disasters, control water salinity and protect aquaculture, transportation and other needs.

It is forecast that by the end of this century, rising sea levels caused by global climate change will inundate an area of up to 15,000-20,000 square kilometres in the Mekong Delta. Nine out of the 13 provinces and cities in the region will be almost completely submerged, seriously affecting agriculture.

The upgrade of sea and estuary dykes also aims to protect the lives and property of locals, as well as ensure production and infrastructure, creating favourable conditions for sustainable socio-development in the region.-

Workshop promotes private investment in water sector

Water supply, wastewater treatment and investment were the primary talking points at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 25 by the Dutch Embassy.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Joop Scheffers said Vietnam lacks sustainable development in the field and the country meets with many difficulties in developing water supply and wastewater treatment systems as well as attracting investment.

He suggested that Vietnam take long-term measures within the next 10-15 years, adding that his country is willing to share its experience with Vietnam.

The Netherlands relies on private companies in sewage treatment and water supply, and Vietnam should also encourage the involvement of the private sector, Scheffers stressed.

According to the Technical Infrastructure Department (TID) under the Ministry of Construction, Vietnam is facing challenges in the development of water supply and drainage and the wastewater treatment sector.

The sector needs a lot of investment to develop effectively and sustainably, especially in urban areas.

However, the investment for the field is only from official development assistance (ODA) resources and the State budget. The participation of the private sector remains limited.

To solve the situation, Vietnam’s authorities plan to issue policies to promote the involvement of the whole of society to invest in the sector, said TID Deputy Director Nguyen Tuong Van.

The country will also encourage enterprises to implement research and technology innovation, focusing on using green technology in water resources management, sustainable wastewater management and civil and industrial water supply, thus improving their capacity in providing services in the sector, Van added.

At the workshop, domestic and foreign experts working in the field shared their experiences in water supply and environment in Vietnam, while mapping out measures to attract further investment.

They also proposed Vietnam apply the public-private partnership model in the field.

Destructive flooding puts central Vietnam at risk

Life after the recent spate of floods in central Vietnam is so tough that many residents are wilting under the strain. All aspects of life seem to have been turned upside down, from food and housing to education and work.

A day after the historically devastating floods, farming families in Quang Ngai province started eating beef for the first time. Normally, their incomes are so low they never taste the meat, but this time it was a matter of survival.

Despite the risk of disease, they were forced to eat the drowned animals because the floods wiped out their rice crops and drowned their buffaloes and cattle.

In Nghia Hanh district alone, floods killed about 1,000 cows and buffaloes, 4,700 pigs and 67,700 chickens. Many survived on the dead animals for several days until emergency supplies reached them.

The floods that followed two typhoons sweeping in from the East Sea were at times made worse by the unannounced release of water from hydro-electricity reservoirs.

The extra deluge took many human lives and also destroyed farm houses, crops and farm stock.

“The floods left them with nothing,” said Nguyen Van Thanh, head of the Hue-based Phuc’s Fond charity group. “All they had were their bare hands to save themselves.”

Thanh made many trips to provide urgent assistance after the devastation around Hue city and throughout Quang Binh province.

In emergencies, instant noodles are considered fast and convenient, but their nutritional value is not high enough to sustain people frantically working to stay alive. That’s why many farmers turned to eating meat from drowned farm animals.

Survivors also had to spend many nights in the open as there were no dry or clean clothes or blankets left. This weakened them further, making them more susceptible to disease and making efforts to clean up the mess even harder.

According to Hoang The Vinh, an officer with the Hue Union of Friendship Organisations, even though central provinces are hit by floods and storms every year, few authorities have established offices to co-ordinate emergency assistance.

He said the union needed clear information about the needs in each area because it had to arrange for help from many international organisations and Vietnamese donors. “This time, we needed statistics about what people were desperate for, but authorities often failed to supply it,” he said.

This meant many victims received little assistance or were given items that did not match their needs.

Nguyen Thi Hoang Ni, a charity volunteer, said the situation in Binh Dinh and Quang Binh provinces was similar.

She said many houses in both provinces were flooded to their roof tops, destroying stocks of rice seed for planting and children’s school and exercise books.

Afterwards, many children held their note books in their hands and wept when they found most of their writing had been destroyed by flood waters. They were particularly grief stricken because they place their hopes for a better life in their studies.

Binh Dinh authorities have by now supplied about 2,000 tonnes of rice seed to plant out the winter-spring crops and 1,000 tonnes of rice to feed people on the verge of starvation.

This sounds like a welcome move, but most farmers feel the authorities have little idea what they are suffering.

The 200 farmers in Phuoc Yen village on the outskirts of Hue said they had to deal with most problems by themselves.

In early November, the super flood caused by the discharge of water from the Huong Dien and Binh Dien hydro-power plants covered their vegetable fields with silt. Farmers have now started growing nutritious rau ma vegetables from seedlings found in the forest.

“We have to replant the fields, and this takes time,” said farmer Nguyen Dinh Cuong.

Another farmer, Le Thi Nu, said the floods swallowed 50sq.m of his field. “The width of the river has doubled and bank erosion is an ever present threat to our lives,” he said.

The floods have not only taken all or most of what many farmers owned but also meant that life will not become easier, even in the distant future. The pain is made worse for those who lost relatives and friends in the disaster.

These are the main reasons farmers are calling for the Government’s tighter management of hydro-power plants.-

TOEFL Junior Challenge contest declares 101 best students

The TOEFL Junior Challenge 2013 contest, organized by the Department of Education and Training in Ho Chi Minh City has declared 101 best students from secondary schools across the country.

This is the first English Language contest held in Vietnam. Contestants had to pass in international tests such as ETS, TOEFL Junior and TPO (TOEFL Practice Online) to test their level of English.

The contest attracted participation of more than 21,000 students from 600 secondary schools from across the country.

In the final round, the organizers selected 101 of the best candidates, which had 64 contestants from HCMC.

The champion of the contest was Nguyen Dinh Song Phuong from Phan Boi Chau Secondary School in HCMC.