Thứ Hai, 2 tháng 1, 2017

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Modern hospital inaugurated in Binh Duong

The Becamex International Hospital was launched on December 30 in Thuan An town, the southern province of Binh Duong, which is expected to provide locals with health care service meeting international standards.

Invested by the Becamex IDC Corporation, the hospital has 500 beds, 300 of which are now ready for patients. Its capacity will be expanded to 1,000 beds in the second phase.

The facility has a 450-strong staff, including 80 doctors, 205 nurses, 23 midwifes, 24 technicians.

It is equipped with modern equipment and machines worth nearly 2 trillion VND.

The hospital also receives support in terms of human resources by large national and international hospitals, including Cho Ray, Gia Dinh People’s Hospital, Paediatrics Hospital 1 and 2, Tu Du and Hung Vuong hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and Khoo Teck Puat of Singapore,

Addressing the launching ceremony, Vice Chairman of the Binh Duong People’s Committee Dang Minh Hung said that the project is part of the province’s policy to encourage all economic sectors to invest in health care.

PM urges academy to bring science, technology into reality

The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) should spare time studying the application of scientific achievements into reality, especially in production, business and start-up.

Addressing a conference in Hanoi on December 27, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pointed to existing problems in scientific research, including impractical studies.

He said local scientists are busy pursuing unattainable issues without noticing down-to-earth needs of businesses.

The PM asked the VAST to study the reasonable use of mineral resources to increase value and avoid national resource waste.

He urged the academy to put forth scientific and technological measures to monitor, control and handle the environment  and address consequences caused by climate change, as well as create environmentally-friendly products, reduce production cost, and increase competitiveness.

The Government leader suggested applying science and technology into processing and food preservation while expanding high added value chain for farm produce.

He told the VAST to increase the competitiveness of such key sectors as hi-tech agriculture, nanotech, artificial intelligence, and new-generation material production.

In 2016, the VAST has announced a total of over 2,000 fundamental scientific works, including 996 published on international journals.

The institution has presented 28 intellectual property certificates, encompassing 11 inventions and 17 useful solutions, representing a year-on-year increase of 56 percent, and published 39 monographs.

Units under the VAST have conducted 1,070 scientific and technological contracts worth over 233 billion VND (10.23 million USD), up nearly 17 percent against 2015.

The VAST also made significant contributions to identifying the cause of the abnormal massive fish death in the central provinces; providing important scientific evidence on violations in the case; and addressing consequences in the affected areas.

ASEAN press photo contest winners announced


Mongkolchai Panyatrakul from the Thai Rath newspaper won first prize of the “ASEAN One Community” press photo contest 

The photo “Water festival in Nong Khai province” by Mongkolchai Panyatrakul from Thailand won the first prize at the “ASEAN – One Community” press photo contest.

The announcement was made at a ceremony held in Hanoi on December 29.

Photo “Bull racing festival” by Vietnamese photographer Nguyen Huu Dinh was the runner-up.

Three third prizes and five encouragement prizes were also awarded to outstanding photos.

The “ASEAN-One Community”, held by the Vietnam Journalists Association as the President of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ) for 2015-2017, was to mark one year anniversary of the establishment of the ASEAN Community.

The contest received nearly 700 entries by members of press organisations in ASEAN state members, featuring the beauty of countries, people and daily life in the common community.

30 years of Vietnam journalism reform

More than 200 leaders of news agencies, journalist associations, journalism training institutes, as well as scientists and journalists from across the country gathered in Hanoi on December 29 at a conference entitled “Journalism after 30 years of doi moi (renewal process) - theoretical and practical issues.”

The conference was sponsored by the Vietnam Journalists Association (VJA), the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Publicity and Education and the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The gathering acted as a platform for participants to review accomplishments and shortcomings of Vietnamese journalism and communications over the past 30 years (1986-2016), the period of Vietnam’s doi moi process, and propose initiatives to strengthen Vietnamese journalism’s roles and improve the quality of media coverage.

VJA President Thuan Huu, a member of the Party Central Committee, said that 30 years is a meaningful period during which the reform process initiated and led by the Party has gained historic accomplishments acknowledged by the domestic and international public.

Journalism played a leading role in disseminating and promoting the reform policies of the Party, he said. Journalism has also renewed itself to catch up with the development of the country, meeting increasing demand of the revolutionary cause and gaining many meaningful achievements, he added.

Deputy Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Publicity and Education, Pham Van Linh, said journalism management and orientation in 2016 underwent encouraging changes. Many news agencies contributed to the fight against corruption, protecting the country’s sovereignty and rejecting incorrect and distorted information by hostile forces.

“However, in the context of unpredicted developments in world affairs and new political tasks, journalism has shown shortcomings. Besides new opportunities, journalism has to overcome challenges,” Huu said.

Ho Quang Loi, VJA vice president, said that a lot of journalism information lacks orientation and focusses on negative issues. Information that harms Vietnamese customs is still allowed to be published in newspapers.

Many TV programmes air "tactless" content, causing anger among the public, he said.  

Discussing journalist ethics, experienced journalist Phan Quang, former VJA president, said “The 1995 journalism ethics code of Vietnam mentions uprightness of journalists. However, now there are more and more reporters who sit at home, type on computers and plagiarise others’ work.”

“The journalism ethics code of Vietnam was issued a long time ago but has yet to be put into practice,” Quang asked.

This year, the Journalism Ethics Code has been adjusted and the revised version will take effect next year.

Journalist Phan Quang spoke highly of the new code, saying that Clause No10 in which press workers must pledge to adhere to the code, is their responsibility and up to their conscience.

Nguyen The Ky, a member of Party Central Committee and General Director of the Voice of Vietnam, said that journalism has developed into various forms. News agencies have focused on renewing and improving news quality.

However, language in the mass media is used improperly in many cases, with carelessly-written words and sentences. Shocking headlines are made to lure readers, but fail to reflect the facts.

“Vietnamese language use on media will affect negatively and widely on the public, especially the youth,” he said, suggesting relevant agencies complete laws on Vietnamese and language use.

Each news agency should have a unit tasked with overseeing language use, he said.

The conference welcomed nearly 90 thematic reports from journalists and researchers, focusing on three topics: general view of theoretical and specialist skill issues of journalism; practical issues including those related to journalism management, trends of modern journalism and adaptation of Vietnamese journalism; and journalist ethics.

Poster contest to highlight APEC Year 2017’s theme

A poster contest on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Year 2017 which will be hosted by Vietnam next year, was officially launched on December 30.

Initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the contest is open to all professional and amateur artists nationwide and those living abroad.

The contest is expected to contributing to concretising Vietnam’s intensive international integration policy, improving the quality and efficiency of multilateral diplomatic affairs, and affirming that Vietnam is a friend, reliable partner, and a responsible member of the regional and international community.

The entries are requested to highlight the theme of the APEC Year 2017 “Creating new driving force for a common future”, and Vietnam’s achievements and contributions to the regional sustainable  economic growth and connection, thus promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Asian Pacific region.

The contest also aims to promote the attractive investment climate and incentives in attracting foreign investment of Vietnam, as well as the country’s culture, landscape and people.

The organising board has the right to use winning works for exhibitions during the APEC Year and at other events nationwide.

The deadline of submission is February 28, 2017.

Previously, a contest to design the logo for the APEC Year 2017 was also launched in March this year.

Vietnam expects to welcome tens of thousands of delegates to 200 activities, including eight ministerial-level conferences across Vietnamese cities and provinces, during the event.

Vietnam made thorough preparations for the event, which is expected to open up great chances for localities to attract visitors and promote their products to APEC partners and world leading businesses.

Marine sovereignty-themed exhibition comes to Bac Kan province

The northern province of Bac Kan is the next destination of an exhibition on Vietnam’s archipelagos in the East Sea, giving locals an insight into historical and legal evidence testifying to the country’s marine sovereignty.

The display, opened on December 29 by the Ministry of Information and Communications, features many documents, objects and nearly 100 maps which were collected and publicised by domestic and foreign researchers.

The exhibits include copies of documents written in Chinese, Nom (a Chinese-like script of Vietnam), Vietnamese and French issued by Vietnam’s feudal regime and the French administration the Indochina from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. They confirm Vietnam’s establishment and exercise of sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos.

Copies of administrative documents issued by the Republic of Vietnam’s administration in the south of the country between 1954 and 1975, and by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since 1975 also affirm Vietnam’s administrative management and exercise and protection of sovereignty over Hoang Sa, Truong Sa and some other sea areas.

Among the items on display are publications compiled and published by some western countries from the 18th to the 19th centuries which relate to Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

Speaking at the event, Vice Chairman of the Bac Kan provincial People’s Committee Pham Duy Hung said the exhibition is an important communication activity helping to raise public awareness and sense of responsibility in protecting the country’s sovereignty over the two archipelagos.

The exhibition, lasting through January 2, 2017, is a continuation of 74 displays previously organised in 51 provinces and cities, 10 islands and island districts, and 13 armed forces units nationwide.

Phu Tho urged to focus on knowledge economy, added-value industries

President Tran Dai Quang has urged Phu Tho province to better exploit its potential and strength for rapid but sustainable development.

He was speaking at a ceremony on December 30 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the northern province, held in the presence of high-ranking officials from the Party and the State.

On behalf of the Party and the State, the President Quang congratulated the province on its achievements in recent years and asked its authorities and residents to continue economic reforms based on modernising production.

The province also needs to prioritise development of the knowledge economy and added value industries, he said.

“Local authorities should focus on attracting investment into projects that can link regions with each other towards maximising the potential of each and every region,” he said.

He suggested that the province focuses on applying new technologies to agricultural development, which would require a shift to large-scale production. The focus should also be on attracting businesses to invest in agriculture and rural development, he said.

He also asked the province to constantly increase its capacity to reinforce and strengthen national defense and security.

“Improving the living standard of local residents is a must. Improving the quality of local human resources and state employees is a must. Vocational training should be improved so that we have highly-skilled workers,” President Quang said.

The province should continue reforming its administrative procedures and improving its investment environment to meet the needs of national industrialisation, modernisation, and global integration, he added.

Phu Tho is in northeastern Vietnam, 80 kilometres away from Hanoi and 50 kilometres from Noi Bai International Airport.

The province has accomplished a lot over the last several years. From a poor province with production activities mostly in agriculture, it has now become a locality with a growth rate always above the national average.

Industrial and services activities account for more than 76 percent of the locality’s economy and tourism has become a leading industry.

On the occasion, President Quang granted the Independent Order, First Class, to the province (second time).

PM urges Da Nang to become nation's growth momentum

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc suggested the central city of Da Nang strongly promote the internal force of the city's each economic sector, towards becoming one of the country's driving forces for growth in the future.

In his statement at a ceremony to mark the 20th founding anniversary of  centrally-run Da Nang city on December 31, the PM called for local authorities' greater efforts to develop Da Nang into a wealthy, peaceful, civilized and modern city, an international trade centre, and an attractive destination for investors and tourists.

He underlined the need for the city to give appropriate policies to flexibly apply special mechanisms on investment, finance, budget and management, streamline the authority apparatus in an effective manner, and improve the quality of civil servants  to satisfy the requirement of a serviceable administration.  

The PM urged Da Nang to lead the way in building a  smart and start-up city, focusing on improving investment and business climate and developing businesses with a target of between 40,000 and 45,000 enterprises by 2020, thus attracting more investment and creating high-added value products, and deeply joining global production and value chains.

It is necessary to foster regional links, especially with localities in the central key economic region like Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Tri, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, in producing industrial and agricultural goods, and applying high-technologies, he noted.

Attention should be paid to comprehensively reforming the education and training, and improving the quality of human resources, in order to meet the locality’s demand of international integration.

Da Nang needs to exert its efforts to join the group of globally competitive cities ranked by international organisations, he said.

While congratulating the municipal authorities on its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2017, the PM said this will offer a good chance for the city to promote its strengths and potential to international friends.

He also expressed his joy at the city’s great achievements in recent times, saying that he hopes the municipal administration will do more endeavours to make the city a home to the talents and a centre of start-ups and creative ideas.

On the occasion, 20 individuals were honoured with the title “outstanding citizen of Da Nang” for their achievements and contributions to the city’s development over the last 20 years.

According to Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Xuan Anh, the tourism has become a spearhead economic sector of Da Nang over the last two decades. The city has so far attracted 5.6 million visitors, up 27 times.

The city’s infrastructure system has been improved in recent years, including nine modern bridges, which not only serve transport but also are attractive tourism destinations for visitors.

In 2016, Da Nang ranked the first in the Provincial Competitive Index and topped the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Index for seven consecutive years.

The city obtained encouraging achievements in economic growth, with economic scale increased 2.5 times and per capita surged over 14 times over the two decades. It is said to be a  most liveable city in Vietnam, becoming an attractive tourism site for domestic and foreign holiday-makers.

Da Nang was splited from Quang Nam-Da Nang province and become a centrally-run city on January 1, 1997.

Bac Lieu asked to boost regional links to optimise development resources

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan has asked the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu to strengthen regional links to optimise development resources in cooperation with other regional localities.

Bac Lieu needs to pay attention to the development of agricultural and aquaculture production tied in with protection of natural resources and improvement in the quality of agricultural products, she said at a ceremony held on December 30 to mark the 20th anniversary of Bac Lieu re-establishment (January 1, 1997-2017).

Chairwoman Ngan praised the outstanding achievements over the last 20 years by the local Party, government and people, urging Bac Lieu to continue promoting administrative reform to build effective government policy, meeting the requirements of industrialisation, modernisation and international integration, while strengthening business environmental improvement and creating favourable conditions for local development.

She also urged Bac Lieu to adhere to Party building work to make its political system clean and strong in the spirit of the Party’s resolutions and policies.

In his speech, Le Minh Khai, Secretary of Bac Lieu provincial Party Committee, highlighted achievements over the last 20 years since the separation from Minh Hai province into Bac Lieu and Ca Mau provinces.

He stated that the glorious tradition of the land has become an important platform for its revolutionary process, as well as during the process of Doi Moi and local development. Bac Lieu today has gained positive comprehensive developments in many fields.

It has developed several models of agricultural production with high economic efficiency, such as the large-scale rice field model associated with product consumption and super-intensive shrimp farming model that has bought about increased productivity of 10-15 times higher than normal shrimp farming.

Kien Giang: more island commune connected to national grid

Up to 526 households in Hon Nghe island commune in Kien Luong district, the southern province of Kien Giang accessed the national grid on December 30, Electricity of Vietnam’s Southern Power Corporation (EVN SPC) announced.

As part of a project to link rural and island areas to the national power grid, the sub-project built a total of 16.37 km of sea-crossing overhead 22kV transmission line, which will be capable of providing millions of kWh of electricity each year.

This is the second longest sea-crossing transmission line in the country after the 24.49km sea-crossing transmission bringing electricity to Lai Son island commune in Kien Hai district of the province.

It was financed by the EVN SPC with total investment of 140 billion VND (6.16 million USD).

Along with the line, a three-phase medium voltage line with a total length of 9.94km, eight transformer stations and 526 electronic meters were built.

The project is expected to promote the local economic and tourism development, contributing to protecting the environment and attracting investment.

Famous Bat Trang ceramics village seeks new approach

A roundtable discussion has been jointly organised by the Hanoi Culture Foundation, the Hanoi Industrial Design College and the Bat Trang Ceramics Guild.

It brought together business owners, ceramic designers and researchers, marketing professionals to look for a new approach for Bat Trang ceramics.

Ha Van Lam, chief of the People’s Representative board, said that during the economic boom of the 1990s and the 2000s, craftsmen in different kilns in Bat Trang sought every way to get their kiln firing and their potter’s job going. To judge a ceramic product, according to Lam, one needed to value its design, and the glaze, adding to the five traditional glazes handed down from ancestors, young craftsmen today have found out new attractive glazes.

"Our red glaze has been inspected and certified by Japanese experts as non-toxic for potters and end-users, and it has entered the demanding markets in Japan," he said.

During many export negotiations, Lam said foreign dealers told him, "Bat Trang ceramics are not as competitive in terms of design and price compared to Chinese products, but they still buy from us because we meet a certain demand from their market."

To put it more specifically, founder of Hien Van Ceramics, designer Bui Hoai Mai, said that Bat Trang craftsmen need to work together as members of a guild, where they need to agree upon certain ethics and rules, and respect each other’s turf.

"We need to understand competition in a more constructive way," he said. "If everyone is fighting to lower the price at the cost of their neighbours, we are all dragging each other downhill. You would need to make clear who is good at refined products, who can produce home appliances, who can provide construction ceramics, and everyone should recommend it to visitors. That way we can develop as a whole."

From a marketer’s point of view, Nguyen Dinh Thanh from Elite PR asked more direct questions.

"Could you create a tea cup that holds 800 years of Bat Trang history in it?"

He went further by asking questions about mapping of the two villages, Bat Trang and Giang Cao, so that visitors know where they are. There is no history board/placard with Bat Trang’s brief history on it. More importantly, there are no homestay addresses, no cafes nor even public restrooms for visitors. "All of these factors need to be taken into account," he added.

"At the village ceramics market," ceramic designer Mai said, "We see ceramics of all types and styles. A visitor will not be able to tell which product is strictly Bat Trang style."

Out in the ceramic market, it took Lam a few minutes to screen the product shelves to spot a distinctive Bat Trang glaze.

Tet bonuses for workers in HCM City

As many as 265 businesses in industrial and processing zones of Ho Chi Minh City have revealed bonus plans for workers on the occasion of traditional Lunar New Year 2017.

The average Tet bonus for each worker in domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) companies will be 7 million VND (307 USD) and 6.8 million VND (298 USD) respectively.

The respective highest bonus will be one billion VND (43,920 USD) and 215 million VND (944 USD) while the lowest will be 3.5 million VND (153 USD).

According to head of the labour management department under the municipal Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (Hepza) Nguyen Vo Minh Thu, nearly 30 businesses reported difficulties in paying Tet bonuses for workers but pledged an equal level to the previous year.

In case, businesses could not afford bonuses, the Hepza trade union will seek supporting measures, she said.

Hepza office manager Tran Cong Khanh said the management board has coordinated with relevant agencies to provide assistance for workers.

For example, trade unions at industrial and processing zones have raised money to buy 6,000 tickets for needy employees to enjoy Tet at home.

The city’s foundation for supporting workers has mobilised businesses to present 1,200 train tickets to workers from the north and central regions for the HCM City-Hanoi and HCM City-Da Nang routes.

Close to 100,000 gift packages worth over 47 billion VND (2.06 million USD) will be granted to workers during the traditional Lunar New Year 2017.

Businesses and retailers will hold programmes to sell products with reasonable prices at a number of industrial parks.

HCM City to arrange different hours for each commuter group to curb congestion

The Ho Chi Minh City administration has ordered the arrangement of exclusive scheduling for certain commuter groups, a plan previously rejected by local authorities to ease the city’s congestion.

The increase in personal vehicles and risk of traffic gridlock in the southern metropolis is leading many to call for effective measures to curb the aching problem, including one proposal to create specific time windows for different commuter groups, according to delegates at a meeting chaired by the municipal People’s Committee.

According to Colonel Tran Duc Tai, deputy director of the city’s Department of Police, about 1,000 new vehicles are registered in the city each day while the total number of vehicles hitting the streets daily is approximately 10 million.

According to a Department of Transport report, about 37 congestion hotspots exist across the southern hub and the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs should arrange different working hours for different groups of workers and students to alleviate these issues.

The proposition is aimed at reducing the number of vehicles travelling at any one time on the city’s street.

Accordingly, class times should start at 8:00 am while office workers will begin their day at 8:30 am; local supermarkets can then open at 9:00 am, the transport department listed the examples.

The plan will certainly be met with criticism, though it will have some benefits tolocal residents, Le Van Khoa, vice-chairman of the city’s administration said before adding that it still needed to be subjected to thorough discussion.

Khoa ordered the labor department to pilot the scheme with certain groups before expanding it to a larger scale.

Meanwhile, Cao Thanh Binh, deputy head of the Economics and Budget Committee under the municipal People’s Council, worried that the changes would impact the daily routine of citizens.

The plan was previously rejected by the council as there was not sufficient evaluation of its effect on society.

“In order to execute the scheme, careful assessment of its impact on society, local economy, and lives of citizens must be conducted,” the official stated.

Thus far, the plan has been applied to the school hours of students in the city in order to curb traffic jams, an official from the municipal Department of Education and Training said at the gathering.

High school students are currently scheduled to start class at 7:00 am while elementary pupils begin half an hour later.

Local kindergartens are set to receive kids at between 7:30 and 8:00 am.

The department will continue to review solutions aimed at establishing different hours for schools busy streets, the education official said, proposing that more school buses be provided to limit personal vehicles at school entrances.

According to Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the transport department, the Traffic Safety Committee will work with the labor department to evaluate the proposition before reporting to the People’s Committee.

Hanoi university students join London logo competition

Students from the British International School of Hanoi have teamed up with The Big Draw 2016 Festival Logo Competition, held annually by a London National Arts Education charity to teach the benefits of drawing to everyone.

This year’s theme – The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016 – responds to the current debate on the essential role of Arts within formal education alongside, and within, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Kate Mason, director of The Big Draw said, “The theme of The Big Draw Festival 2016 invites event organizers to look at the intersection between arts, science, digital technology and enterprise, and represents our support of the campaign to give the arts parity with other subjects so that STEM becomes STEAM.”

It has been announced that more than 200 Hanoi students attending the University have so far joined this year’s competition for illustrators, designers and drawing enthusiasts to visually represent how Art sits alongside STEM subjects, to create STEAM.

The entrants were urged to consider how the universal language of drawing shapes the world around them and how artistic and creative thinking is essential to diverse industries.

hanoi university students join london logo competition hinh 1 For example, how a Physicist may use drawings to communicate scientific and mathematical concepts, how buildings come into being through an Architect’s sketches, or how an engineer might visualize new innovations.
Some of the Hanoi students got involved in a massive 10-metre drawing while others participated in sci-art experimentation in film, live drawing, and music, as well as a live illustration showdown between arts and science students.

The competition is open until April 25 of next year after which the winners will be announced. In addition to exposure around the world, one lucky winner will receive US$300 and a luxury hamper of art materials from sponsors.

Vietnamese cops discover dozen rare monkeys dead on bus

Police in the central province of Ha Tinh have impounded a passenger bus after discovering a dozen rare monkey carcases in its luggage compartment.

Investigators identified the animals as François’ langurs, a species that has been severely threatened by poaching.

Traffic officers stopped the bus at around 10 p.m. and discovered the carcases wrapped in paper and packed in a suitcase.

The wild animals had been disemboweled and dried.

Provincial forest rangers and environmental police have taken over the case.

Adherents of Chinese medicine believe that wine made out of the protected primate's bones can cure fatigue and rheumatism.

Deforestation has also contributed to the steady decline of the population over the past 30 years. Fewer than 500 wild individuals are believed to remain in Vietnam, and around 1,500 in China.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the species as endangered while Vietnam strictly bans commercial exploitation of the species.

Vietnam gets ready to self-finance vaccine program

Vietnam has started phasing out from receiving international support for its immunization program.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which includes WHO and UNICEF, has provided Vietnam with US$14.9 million for vaccines, US$3.2 million for injection safety, and US$1.9 million for immunization services since 2000.

GAVI has also offered US$86.69 billion to introduce the 5-in-1 vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

Vietnam has drastically reduced the number of child deaths. Statistics provided by UNICEF showed that over the last two decades, the number of deaths of Vietnamese children under five years old dropped from 56 per 1,000 in 1990 to 22 per 1,000 in 2015.

Duong Thi Hong, deputy head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, told the Vietnam News Agency that the immunization coverage rates are high, for instance 94.9% for measles and rubella.

But Hong said there will be challenges next year as GAVI is set to cut back on its support.

Vietnam is now in the transition phase and will no longer be eligible for funding from the alliance as the average income level has increased, hitting around US$2,200.

“There is a steady downward trend in foreign aid since Vietnam has been listed among middle-income countries,” said Hong.

The government needs to be proactive to be able to self-finance its immunization program, she said.

Vietnam is pushing for mass production of vaccines. According to the Ministry of Health, the country is among a few in Southeast Asia capable of producing most of the important vaccines needed.

However, the country has not been able to combine several vaccines in one shot, for instance, 5-in-1 or 6-in-1 vaccines, said the health ministry.

Travellers to Vietnam hit record high in 2016

A record 10.01 million people visited Vietnam during calendar year 2016, marking a 125% increase over the number of inbound travellers for 2015, the General Statistics Office (GSO) has reported.

Much of the increase is attributable to an increase in Chinese travellers, both business and pleasure, which hit a record high 2.7 million in 2016, more than 150% the number for 2015.

Most of the remainder of the increase can be accounted for by an increase in travellers from Asia, both business and pleasure, which hit 7.26 million, accounting for 72.5% of the total number of inbound travellers.

The coming into force of ASEAN at the beginning of the year in tandem with the increased business travel into and out of the country on the back of increased free and bilateral trade agreements has had a profound impact on the number of travellers, said the GSO.

Sustained support needed to sustain poverty reduction

Poverty reduction programmes have had positive impacts on the living standards of ethnic minorities, but the challenge of sustaining the gains remains, experts say.

Đỗ Văn Chiến, Minister and Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Affairs, said the government’s social policies upgraded the socio-economic infrastructure in rural, mountainous and ethnic minority areas, gradually improving the lives of poor people.

A 2015 survey of nation’s 53 ethnic minority communities showed that the number of household receiving electricity from the national grid nearly reached 94 per cent. All communes have primary and secondary schools.

The poverty rate among poor households fell from 35 per cent in 2011 to 16.8 per cent by the end of 2015.

The Government adjusted its support for ethnic minority and mountainous areas, shifting its focus from families to communities and paying more attention to creating livelihoods so as to reduce reliance on aid, he said.

The provision of grants was replaced by provision of loans at preferential interest rates.

Ethnic minority-inhabited areas benefited from two national programmes, 135 and 30a, one on rural development and the other on sustainable poverty reduction.

The Government promulgated specific policies to support the poor’s access to land, credit, education, housing, clean water and health insurance. However, despite all these achievements, limitations persisted in efforts to eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty, Chiến said.

A lack of long-term support resulted in the fact that many support policies didn’t have the desired impact, he said.

Tráng A Thào, a resident of Xà Hồ Commune in Yên Bái Province, said his family had not been able to achieve high productivity even after receiving support to shift from planting cassava to maize.

Xa Viết Xuân, chairman of Tân Minh, a disadvantaged commune in northern mountainous province of Hòa Binh, said such policies like fertiliser and seedling assistance can only help local residents in the short term. Since they cannot accumulate enough after each crop, they don’t have the resources to increase or even maintain production.

Sơn Phước Ngoan, former chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Affairs, said insufficient funding led to ineffective poverty reduction.

"Ethnic minorities want to buy a cow but they are only able to buy a part of the cow. So they can’t escape poverty", he said.

This view was confirmed by Hoàng Thị Dung of Yên Bái Province’s Văn Yên District.

"We want to get rid of poverty but we don’t have the capital to expand our production," she said.

It costs between VNĐ15-20 million (US$660-880) to buy a buffalo. Of these, VNĐ5 million ($220) is given by the government but poor people like her couldn’t afford to raise the remaining funds on their own, Dung said.

Nông Văn Tông, who heads the Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Office in Yên Bái’s Bảo Lạc District, said it was difficult to promote sustainable development with policies that don’t focus on key areas.

Under the 30a programme, farmers received a one-time support. So, if a farmer received a cow or seedlings this year, he would not get any assistance the following year, he said.

"Encouraging ethnic minorities to proactively escape poverty and avoid relying on support from the State and community is an approach in the right direction, but there is no alternative to raising capital allocation for extremely disadvantaged areas and reviewing the way people get support," Chiến said.

Sight glass of steam boiler explodes, one killed

The sight glass of a steam boiler at Hoà Bình Sugarcane JSC in northern Hoà Bình Province recently exploded, killing a worker who was operating the boiler.

On Tuesday, Bùi Thị Thảo, 28, in Lạc Sơn District’s Ân Nghĩa Commune was operating the steam boiler at the sugarcane factory of the company when the sight glass of the boiler exploded.

Pieces of glass flew towards the worker, who died immediately.

Authorised agencies are investigating the incident.

According to the initial investigation, the factory, located in Lạc Sơn District’s Tân Mỹ Commune, was found to be discharging untreated wastewater into the environment, causing mass fish deaths affecting farmers in central Thanh Hóa Province.

The Vietnam Environment Administration had suspended the operation of the factory and asked it to address the situation.

The factory had asked for permission from authorised agencies to resume its operation. Although it had not yet received any reply, it continued to collect sugarcane from farmers and operated the business.
Hà Nội museums cooperate to draw visitors

Museums in Hà Nội have signed a cooperation agreement to promote themselves, introduce their activities and raise people’s awareness of the value of their historic and artistic content on display.

The co-operation agreement will last from now to 2020, by which time a nationwide association of museums will be established along the lines of the International Council of Museums, according to Nguyễn Văn Cường, director of the National Museum of History.

“We will strengthen co-operation to upgrade the quality of the exhibitions with the intention of luring more visitors,” he said. “Accordingly, we will develop tours between museums to serve tourists, students and researchers. We will also set up virtual exhibitions and introduce ourselves on each others’ websites.”

The sites participating in the memorandum of understanding include the National Museum of History, the Museum of Ethnology, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, the Hà Nội Museum, the Hồ Chí Minh Presidential Palace Historical Site and the Culture-Tourism Village of Vietnamese Ethnic Groups. — VNS

HCM City tourism market bustling over holiday season

Travel agencies in Ho Chi Minh City said most of their tours arranged for New Year and lunar New Year holidays have been booked.

As the two holidays are quite close together, their customers were more likely to choose trips in Vietnam or to the ASEAN region for the New Year, and to farther destinations for the Lunar New Year.

According to tour operator Lien Bang Travelink, Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea and Japan are its top destinations for the lunar holiday, while tours to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia during the upcoming New Year have been fully booked. The company said there are a few vacancies left in domestic tours to Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Phu Yen and Da Lat.

The Viet Media Travel Corporation reported that since middle November, there has been a large number of tourists registering a lunar holiday in Europe, the US or Australia.

Tran Thi Viet Huong, a marketing representative from travel firm Vietravel, said purchasing power recorded for the New Year season just inched up a little compared to earlier forecast.

Viettravel has sold out most of its overseas journeys. It will continue offering domestic tours with various promotions and discounts.

Vietravel expects to accommodate 1 million visitors in 2017

Tour operator Vietravel served 700,000 tourists in 2016 and has set a goal to push the figure to one million in 2017.

The company reeled in approximately 5.1 trillion VND (224.4 million USD) in 2016, up 9 percent compared to yearly plan.

After 21 years of operation, Vietravel has been ranked among top ten travel agencies in Asia.

It has representative offices across Vietnam and foreign countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand, the US, France and Australia.


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