Social News 26/6
Vietnam traffic death toll remains a national disgrace
Over the last decade, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on campaigns to remind the public of the dangers of drinking and driving, failing to buckle up, not wearing helmets and using mobiles while on road.
Despite all that money, time and effort, the country doesn’t have much to show for it— as just about as many Vietnamese are dying on roads and highways this year as they did in prior years.
The latest unwelcome news in fatality estimates released by the National Committee for Traffic Safety show that 4,000 people died in traffic accidents involving motor vehicles in the first six months of 2017.
The number of deaths is 380 more than the target of 3,650 set by the Vietnam government for the 6-month period January 1-June 30, 2107. The government aims to reduce traffic deaths for 2017 to 7,300 or below.
Meanwhile, the number of serious traffic injuries for the period was estimated at approximately 8,000, which is statistically insignificant from the number of injuries for the first six months of last year.
Outcomes of project to send 600 intellectuals to communes
The Ministry of Interior has launched a program to send 600 young intellectuals to work as Vice Chairpersons of extremely poor communes in 64 districts nationwide.
The 5-year project has helped train young staff for local administrations and has boosted local socio-economic development.
The graduates worked in disadvantaged localities with responsibility and enthusiasm. An assessment report said that 97% of the young intellectuals have fulfilled their tasks and actively engaged in local socio-economic development and defense.
Ninh Thi Kim Thao, Vice Chairwoman of the Ban Xen commune People’s Committee, Lao Cai province, said “I had to learn about the customs of local ethnic people. I listened to their opinions and their situation before giving them new information and advice. Gradually they understood.”
The dynamism and enthusiasm of young graduates brought a fresh working style to the localities. Dien Bien province received 32 people to work as Vice Chairpersons of communal People’s Committees. The young officials got involved in farming and production and encouraged ethnic people to send their children to school, build a cultural lifestyle, and abandon backward customs. At the end of the project, 30 of them were offered new jobs.
Mua A Vang, Deputy Head of Dien Bien province’s National Assembly delegation, said “The young intellectuals have instructed people how to grow plants, raise animals, and develop their household economy. They introduced a professional working style to communal activities.”
Tran Cong Thuat, Vice Secretary of the Quang Binh provincial Party Committee, said the young deputy heads in Minh Hoa district, have fulfilled their tasks of updating local people on laws and policies concerning environmental protection and new rural development. “The 600 young intellectuals have capitalized on their strengths and practiced what they learnt at universities. The project has been judged successful and we hope it will continue."
Rare monkeys left to disappear in central Vietnam
People in the central province of Quang Nam fear that a group of rare douc langurs is being slowly wiped out from existence due to a lack of conservation efforts.
Locals said there were around 100 grey-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea) in the province, but now only a few dozen can be spotted.
Nguyen Van Cuong, a farmer in the mountainous district of Nui Thanh, said around 10 years ago, many people in the area cleared forest to plant acacia trees for wood, driving the primates away.
Then poaching made it worse for the rare animals, he said.
“The monkeys used to jump around beautifully in this vast area of jungle. It’s very easy to recognize them as they would be making a lot of noise,” Cuong said of the animals, which he described as gentle.
The grey-shanked species, which has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is native to Quang Nam and several other central provinces. Last year the Fauna and Flora International announced a discovery of more than 500 individuals in the region, bringing the group’s population worldwide to around 1,000 members.
Phan Minh Huan, a local officer in charge of forest protection, said his team has reported to the province government about the situation and organized campaigns asking locals not to harm the animals.
He said the poachers are people from outside the province.
Huan said there has not been any official plan to protect the monkeys, and conservation efforts will require money.
Phan Tuan, the province’s chief forest management official, only promised that a study will be conducted and there will be solutions.
Meet the Saigon man who is firefighter by night, test-taker by day
Trang Thanh Nam was among the firefighters dispatched to a severe blaze in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22 night, when it was only hours before his important national high-school examination.
The 21-year-old and 200 other firefighters had to work through the night to put out the raging inferno that engulfed a warehouse District 4, even though he was supposed to sit for the natural science test the following morning.
Vietnamese students began sitting for a three-day national examination, whose results are used for both high-school graduation and college entrance, on June 21.
Nam, a high school graduate who works at the Ho Chi Minh City fire department, attended the exam to use the result for his university admission.
“I knew I had to get up early to arrive at the test-taking venue on time,” the young firefighter told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper at the scene of fire, when the blaze was controlled at first light on Friday.
“However, the fire looked disastrous and I believed I had to stay with my colleagues to prevent it from spreading further.”
His colleagues did ask Nam to get back to the fire dept headquarters to take some rest before the exam, where students would sit for the physics and chemistry tests, but the young firefighter insisted on continuing his duty.
“I could not stand seeing my teammates were sweating to fight the fire when I myself did nothing to help,” he explained.
“I had decided that I would only leave the scene when the fire was killed.
“I’d rather skip the exam than seeing the fire sweep through other houses in the area.”
The blaze was completely extinguished at 5:00 am on June 23. Only by that time did Nam agree to get back to his unit, changing clothes and heading for the exam venue.
He arrived on time and told Tuoi Tre later that “[I] did my tests quite well.”
Nam’s story has won the heart of many Tuoi Tre readers, who all wish he would have good results for the most important test of Vietnamese students.
Others suggest some university grant a scholarship to him or accept him without waiting for the exam results.
Sunway Hotel Hanoi launches the project to support VN underprivileged youngsters
Sunway Hotel Hanoi launched a project aiming to support Vietnamese underprivileged youth on Thursday, giving kids an opportunity to earn regular income from quilling handicrafts products.
The hotel, part of Malaysia’s Sunway Group, held a signing ceremony to launch its collaboration with the Quỳnh Hoa Charity Vocational Training Centre. It is Sunway’s first project to support Vietnamese underprivileged youngsters.
It aims to offer the disadvantaged in the Quỳnh Hoa Centre a steady market for their quilling handicrafts from paper such as pictures, cards, jewelry boxes, etc. These products will be selected and presented as a souvenir to customers in the hotel and be displayed and sold at the hotel lounge.
“Social responsibility forms an integral part of Sunway Group’s business framework. In Sunway, we believe that human beauty is made of acts of kindness. Giving support to the disadvantaged both brings them a light of hope for a better life and improves the quality of the society in Việt Nam, where Sunway Group realises a full potential for tourism and service industries,” said Leslie Chiyoma, Sunway Hotel Hanoi’s general manager.
He added that the hotel is driven by the motto: “Giving a fishing rod is better than giving a fish”.
The Quỳnh Hoa Centre, part of the Organization for the Support and Education of Disadvantaged Children (OSEDC), was founded in 2007. It aims to provide vocational training, career orientation and job opportunities to underprivileged children from all over the country, including Agent Orange victims’ children, disabled and homeless children. All training courses are free, covering a broad range of skills such as sewing, embroidery, silk flower making, knitting, mat making, etc.
The centre’s director, Nguyễn Quỳnh Hoa, said at the event on Thursday that during its early years, the centre had to face lack of financial support, inadequate facilities, a lack of suitable jobs for the disabled, and a poor volume of sales. Later, thank to a strong determination to cope with difficulties of both teachers and children in the centre as well as the support from the authorities, charitable organisations, donors, companies, university students and media, the centre managed to overcome all the obstacles.
The centre houses 60 students.
In 2010, Quilling (Paper filigree) was added to the centre’s training curriculum and became a favourite skill of the disabled. They make the quilling products which have also become popular among both domestic and foreign customers. This helps them earn their own living.
Water discharge affects agricultural land in Cà Mau
Thousands of hectares of agricultural land in Cà Mau Province’s Thới Bình District have been affected after forest management companies opened sewer sluices and discharged floodwater.
U Minh Hạ and U Minh Thượng forest management companies in the southern provinces of Cà Mau and Kiên Giang, respectively, discharged sewer water as the melaleuca forest started flooding in May, but failed to do so in the time announced, the local People’s Committee said.
This has affected around 6,500ha of agricultural land in Biển Bạch Đông and Tân Bằng communes.
The communes’ people’s committees said the companies announced the discharge time but did not say when they would close the sluices. The sewer water has polluted the land and affected agricultural production and people’s lives.
The People’s Committee of Thới Bình District has proposed that the provincial People’s Committee ask the forest companies to share their schedules with locals to avoid this problem in the future.
American tourist stabbed to death on Saigon backpacker street
An American tourist was stabbed to death during a fight with a Vietnamese man in Ho Chi Minh City's backpacker district on Thursday night.
Police have identified the suspect, allegedly with a history of drug addiction, and are searching for him, HCMC Police’s news website reported.
An initial investigation found that Stephen Marshall Pendeeton had got caught up in a fight with a Vietnamese man on Pham Ngu Lao Street, a popular nighttime venue among foreigners.
The 22-year-old tourist reportedly tried to escape down an alley but was chased after and stabbed to death. His attacker then fled the scene.
The cause of their conflict is not immediately known.
Pham Ngu Lao is part of the city’s popular backpacker district with bars, spas and clubs staying open until late at night. It draws up to 2,000 foreign visitors every day.
Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam, welcoming more than five million foreign arrivals last year. But safety issues such as muggings and violent street attacks remain a concern for visitors.
Litchi in Bac Giang sold well
As many as 39,451 tonnes of litchi have been sold in the northern province of Bac Giang, equivalent to around 40 percent of the total production, said a local official on June 23.
Of the figure, nearly 30,049 tonnes are early-season litchi and the remaining are of main crop, according to Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Dao Xuan Cuong.
Over 11,000 tonnes and 13 tonnes were shipped to China and Australia, respectively. Roughly 27,756 tonnes were sold nationwide, mostly in northern localities, Hanoi, the central city of Da Nang, the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and several southern provinces.
In response to Luc Ngan – Bac Giang Litchi Week, 45 tonnes of Bac Giang litchi were supplied to Big C supermarket chain, and more than 3 tonnes went to Hapro and around 2 tonnes to Saigon Co.op chain, which all meet VietGap or GlobalGAP standards.
This year, litchi fetch 25,000-72,000 VND (1.1-2.6 USD) per kilogram, or 5-10 percent higher than last year, reported the department.
Mass yoga demonstration attracts crowds in Vinh Phuc
A mass yoga demonstration took place in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on June 24, attracting nearly 1,000 yoga lovers from Hanoi and the northern provinces of Hai Duong, Phu Tho, Bac Giang and Vinh Phuc.
In response to third International Yoga Day (June 21), the event also formed part of celebrations for the 45th anniversary of Vietnam-India diplomatic ties and the 10th anniversary of bilateral strategic partnership.
Speaking at the event, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Duy Thanh said the event aims to further strengthen mutual understanding between the two peoples.
Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Parvathaneni Harish, for his part, expressed wish that via the event, more people in Vinh Phuc will practise yoga.
The event was a joint effort among the provincial authorities, the Indian embassy and Bao Viet Insurance.
SMEs assist disadvantaged households in Thai Binh province
The Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (VASME) has committed to providing continuous support for disadvantaged and policy beneficiary families in the northern province of Thai Binh from 2017 - 2020.
The documents on cooperation in social welfares were signed between the VASME and authorities of Thai Thuy and Dong Hung districts of Thai Binh on June 22 and 23.
It was as part of activities to implement the joint Resolution of the Government and the Presidium of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee on sustainable poverty reduction and the building of new-style rural areas and civilised cities.
Accordingly, the VASME will mobilise resources from its members and coordinate with the VFF to build houses for specially disadvantaged families and the families with people devoting to the nation in the two districts.
The association will ensure that assistance will be given to the targeted group in a timely and effective manner.
Addressing the signing ceremony, VASME President Nguyen Van Than said over the past years, the association has participated in the campaign for the poor and social welfare programmes in many localities across the nation.
From 2017 to 2020, the association will support five breeding cows to the targeted families in Thai Thuy and help build five houses for other households in Dong Hung each year.
Conference looks into people-to-people diplomacy
The Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) and the ActionAid International Vietnam (AAV) organised a conference in Hanoi on June 23 to share information about people-to-people diplomacy.
Speaking at the event, VUFO Vice President and Secretary General Don Tuan Phong said over the past years, VUFO has made achievements in work regarding peace, solidarity and friendship; effective mobilisation, use and management of capital raised from foreign non-governmental organisations for socio-economic development, and information for external service.
In the near future, Phong called attention to personnel training, mechanism building to further improve mass organisations’ coordination in international activities, and communications to raise public awareness of global integration, particularly among young generations.
Speakers also talked about multilateral affairs, trend of foreign non-governmental work in Vietnam, among others.
AAV representatives updated participants about efficiency of the past and underway projects in Vietnam
Vietnam-Laos friendly sports exchange opens in Vientiane
A friendly sports exchange between the Vietnamese embassy in Laos and the Lao Presidential Office kicked off in Vientiane on June 23.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister-cum-deputy head of the Lao Presidential Office Kingmano Phommahaxay said the event is meant to celebrate the 55th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Vietnam-Laos Treaty of Amity and Comprehensive Cooperation.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Nguyen Ba Hung said the event contributes to tightening solidarity and mutual understanding between Vietnamese and Lao representative offices, as well as between the two governments and peoples.
Participating in the exchange were four male table tennis duos and 18 male and female badminton duos.
EVN brings electricity to rural areas, islands
The Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) said it has continued investing in power projects in rural and remote areas and islands, especially localities with a low rate of rural households gaining access to electricity.
The group has called for official development assistance and preferential loans from international organisations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and German development bank KfW.
Regarding a PM-approved programme on power supply for rural, mountainous areas and islands for 2013-2020, the EVN has worked closely with localities to set out priorities in line with annual funding from the State budget. Under the programme, projects designed for 2016-2020 need 13.72 trillion VND (603.68 million USD) while the State budget allocated for them only amounts to 1.14 trillion VND (50.16 million USD), equivalent to 10.6 percent.
During the 2011-2015 period, the EVN focused on connecting ethnic communities in the northern mountainous, Central Highlands and southwest regions to the national grid, with a total investment of over 794 million USD.
In 2016 alone, the group brought electricity to Lai Son and Hon Nghe island in the southern province of KienGiang and Cham islet in the central province of Quang Nam.
Currently, electricity has been available in 99.96 percent of communes nationwide, with 98.69 percent of rural households having access to power sources.
The EVN also supplies electricity for 11 out of 12 island districts.
Labour Confederation, Vietnam News Agency ink cooperation deal
The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) signed a cooperation agreement for 2017 – 2022 in Hanoi on June 23.
Addressing the signing ceremony, VGCL President Bui Van Cuong said the collaboration programmes between the two sides have been implemented effectively, including the Vietnam Trade Union Programme on the VNA’s Vnews TV channel.
Stories on the Vnews channel and other publications of the VNA have reflected the living and working conditions of Vietnamese labourers, particularly those working in industrial parks, export processing zones, as well as other issues like social insurance, health insurance, and housing, he said.
He calls on the Vietnam News Agency to build more programmes to meet the information demand of 10 million trade union members and nearly 20 million labourers across the nation, contributing to the development of Vietnam’s Trade Union and the working class.
VNA General Director Nguyen Duc Loi thanked the VGCL for assisting VNA reporters.
Agreeing with the VGCL’s suggestion to increase the coverage of the organisation’s activities on all VNA publications, he called on the confederation to provide early and full information for public news agencies including the VNA so that they can make quality press works.
On the occasion, the VGCL presented the insignia “For the cause of Trade Union” to five VNA leaders while VNA gave the insignia “For the cause of the VNA” to two VGCL leaders.
The State-owned VNA is a major news agency in Southeast Asia with more than 1,300 reporters and editors, and a network of representative offices in all 63 cities and provinces of Vietnam and 30 in foreign countries.
Besides the five main editorial departments, it runs a TV channel - the Vnews, an online newspaper – VietnamPlus in five languages-, and various publications.
Party chief updates Hanoi voters on NA session’s outcomes
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and other National Assembly (NA) deputies of Hanoi met with voters in Hai Ba Trung and Dong Da districts on June 23 to update them on the outcomes of the freshly concluded third session of the 14th NA.
At the meetings, most of local voters highly valued the outcomes of the third sitting, saying that question and answer (Q&A) sessions showed increasing democracy in the parliament’s activities while reflecting the public’s aspirations and concerns, as well as the sense of responsibility of deputies and heads of sectors.
Voters expressed their hope that heads of sectors will keep their promises, especially in settling public debts and ensuring food safety. They also asked the NA to strengthen its supreme supervision and ensure the strict enforcement of the Constitution and laws.
While applauding the initial encouraging outcomes in the fight against corruption which have helped regain the people’s trust, Hanoi voters also mentioned numerous issues of public concern such as State apparatus re-arrangement, gender equality, child protection, regional connectivity, illegal deforestation and sand mining.
Speaking at the meetings, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong thanked voters for keeping a close watch on the third session, noting that the three-day Q&A activities focused on agriculture and rural development; culture, sports and tourism; health care; and planning and investment, clarifying shortcomings and measures to address.
The NA issued a resolution which will be a foundation for the Government, ministries and sectors to realise what cabinet members and heads of sectors had promised and for the supervision of this work, he noted.
The Party leader emphasised that the problem is how to realise and supervise the performance of the promises of ministers and heads of sectors, particularly in settling bad and public debt, ensuring food safety, preventing violence, protecting the environment, and preserving national cultural identities.
He thanked voters for recognising the recent efforts and outcomes in the fight against corruption, adding that many senior officials have been brought to trial.
Stressing the resolve to combat corruption and wastefulness, the Party chief said this is a common fight of the entire Party, people and army, expressing his hope that the people will always keep their trust, support and actively take part in building the Party and a pure and strong political system.
The leader also acknowledged their wholehearted and responsible opinions and support to NA deputies, which helped legislators to better fulfill their roles and tasks.
PM urges HCM City to create favourable start-up environment
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the southern largest economic of Ho Chi Minh City to create a favourable start-up environment for those with great willpower.
At a working session with HCM City’s key leaders on June 23, PM Phuc said it is a must for the city to build an innovative economy, become a momentum for sustainable development and drive the country’s intensive international integration.
He emphasised core values the southern hub should look towards, including smart urban infrastructure, smart management, technocracy, inclusive growth and equal development opportunities for all people.
“HCM City’s key objective is to generate jobs with increasing incomes, create sustainable collection sources for State budget and leave no one behind development,” the Government leader stressed.
PM Phuc voiced his hope that HCM City will put forth long-term planning schemes which target sustainable development, and urged the locality to review its land use plan and report the results to the PM in August.
The PM requested HCM City to take the lead in terms of administrative reform, strive to enter the list of the five localities with the best provincial competitiveness index, and create new breakthroughs in private investment.
To that end, HCM City, together with the capital city of Hanoi, should pioneer in start-up and innovation and become an international centre of education and health care, he said.
The government leader asked the municipal Party Organisation and administration to focus efforts on removing bottlenecks hindering the city’s socio-economic development, especially in transport infrastructure, and renew thoughts. “The Government will accompany the city’s innovations,” he affirmed.
At the meeting, PM Phuc also praised the city’s contributions to the country’s GDP and state budget collection.
In the first half of this year, HCM City’s economy grew 7.76 percent as compared with 7.47 percent in the same period last year, with the best performers being services, industry, construction, and agriculture. It is a huge task for the city to reach the economic growth rate of 8.5 percent set for the last six months and the following years, the leader said.
PM Phuc also pointed out a range of limitations such as decreased competitiveness index and below-average readings of unofficial spending, equal competitiveness, legal institutions and systematic dynamism. At the same time, the city has to face with such problems as flooding, traffic jams and pollution, he said.
Regarding the expansion of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, PM Phuc urged relevant agencies and units to promptly seek experts and organisations to make scientific assessments so as to soon implement the project, explaining that the Long Thanh international airport project, which aims to reduce the overload of Tan Son Nhat airport, is scheduled to be completed in 2025-2027.
Representatives from ministries and agencies held that HCM City has become an attractive destination for investors and stressed the need for the locality to select suitable projects and prioritise urgent programmes in order to create impulses for its growth.
They also suggested HCM City intensify the decentralisation of management at different levels and finalise a legal framework, thus giving a facelift for the locality.
Speaking at the working session, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said that HCM City commits to exert all-out efforts to complete socio-economic targets and overfulfill the target of State budget collection.
HCM City will continue with administrative reform and strive to launch the granting of investment licences under the one-stop model in September, in tandem with settling pressing issues like waste and traffic jams.
Quang Tri learns public administration experiences from RoK
Professors and experts shared their experiences and measures to improve public administration reform with the authorities of central Quang Tri province during a seminar held from June 20-23.
The seminar was part of a cooperation programme between Quang Tri province and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The professors and experts, who came from universities of the Republic of Korea (RoK), delivered presentations on the programme’s targets and the application of e-government in direct foreign investment.
Representatives of provincial departments and agencies studied the feasibility of the proposed measures to improve provincial administration services and apply electronic services in State agencies in the province.
After two years of implementing the cooperation programme, a series of seminars and field trips to the RoK for provincial officials were organised, enabling them to get new approaches to state management in the RoK.
The province’s public administration reform has reaped encouraging outcomes, raising capacities and personnel management efficiency in state agencies of all levels and contributing to Quang Tri’s socio-economic development.
World Bank helps Vietnam improve transport connectivity, forest protection
The World Bank (WB) in Vietnam on June 23 announced that it has recently approved a 300 million USD fund to support Vietnam in enhancing transport connectivity in countryside and forest protection in eight coastal localities.
Two projects to receive financing include the Central Highlands Connectivity Improvement Project and the Forest Sector Modernisation and Coastal Resilience Enhancement Project.
Half of the funding (150 million USD) will be spent to the connectivity improvement project, which is designed to upgrade 142 kilometres of National Highway 19 and strengthen transport safety and resilience to national disasters.
Once the project is finished, communities in Binh Dinh and Gia Lai provinces will benefit from easier access to markets, reduced commuting time and better road safety. The upgraded highway is expected to serve up to 6,200 light motor vehicles per day.
The other half of the financing will support the management of coastal forests in Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Ninh provinces and Hai Phong city.
The project is hoped to create jobs for residents in more than 900 communities across 257 communes in eight benefiting localities while offering opportunities for ecotourism and aquaculture development.
Investing in environmentally-sustainable projects is investing in the future of Vietnam, said Ousmane Dione, the WB Country Director for Vietnam, adding that the WB fully supports Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen its resilience to climate change and to serve the needs of communities and businesses.
The projects are the most vivid examples of implementing the WB’s Country Partnership Framework that strengthens Vietnam’s sustainability and economic development in the long term, he noted.
Conference promotes rights of people with disabilities
International cooperation is crucial to successfully realising the rights of people with disabilities, heard a conference jointly held by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and Caritas - a Catholic charitable organisation in Hanoi on June 23.
This is part of the activities in preparation for the country’s first report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to the UN in the coming time.
The promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities is a priority in Vietnam’s policies towards this disadvantaged group, affirmed participants at the event. They said it has been represented through a system of legal regulations and the country’s ratification of the UNCRPD in 2015.
In the past years, international cooperation in the field has been consolidated and promotion of disabled people’s rights has drawn attention from numerous international organisations and non-governmental organisations.
The attendants also shared experience in international collaboration at the event.
Some representatives asked the MoLISA to further support for localities in providing healthcare for the disabled. They also suggested that relevant branches set up specific support policies and encourage investment in rehabilitation centres for persons with disabilities.
Vietnam has around 7.2 million people with disabilities, accounting for 7.8 percent of the population, one of the high levels in the Asia- Pacific. More than half (58 percent) of the disabled population are women, 28.3 percent are children and 15 percent live in poverty, according to statistics in 2016 of the National Committee for People with Disabilities.
MoLISA’s statistics showed that around 900,000 people with disabilities are receiving monthly allowance. All centrally-governed cities and provinces have built rehabilitation facilities for the disabled. During 2011-2015, around 140,000 people with disabilities received vocational training and found jobs through State-sponsored programmes.
Vietnam Vovinam Federation holds third congress
The Vietnam Vovinam Federation held its third national congress in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22.
In the new term, the federation will continue to promote Vovinam to international friends and introduce the country’s image while working with World, Asian and ASEAN Vovinam Federations to hold international competitions.
The federation also aims to enhance Vovinam’s development in Vietnam, especially among students and people in remote and mountainous areas of the northern and central regions.
It continues piloting a project on adding Vovinam in the curriculum of schools in HCM City. Physical teachers in Thanh Hoa, Can Tho, Dong Thap, Binh Phuoc and HCM City have been trained as Vovinam instructors to make the martial art an official subject for students.
Vovinam has to date been practiced in more than 60 countries and territories, with millions of learners in thousands of Vovinam clubs. The sport was included in the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar and the fifth Asian Beach Games in Da Nang city.
Eco-friendly aquaculture model on Ha Long Bay proves fruitful
A pilot programme “Eco-friendly aquaculture on Ha Long Bay” launched in mid-2016 in the northern province of Quang Ninh, has been a success for local fishermen.
Conducted by the Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development and partners, the programme is part of the “Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance Initiative” for 2014-2017 funded by the US government.
In April 2016, the programme was launched in Vung Vieng fishing village on Vung Ha islands, Ha Phong ward, Ha Long city.
Under the programme, 32 boat houses and rafts will be installed for aquaculture and tourism between now and 2018, with seven of them already operating, attracting hundreds of tourists daily. Half of the funds funding for the programme are sourced from Van Chai cooperative, with the remainder from the project.
Beneficiaries only pay for breeding fish and after three years they can buy the boat houses if they wish.
According to planning for aquaculture on Ha Long Bay, each participating household will be provided 300sq.m of water area and 180 sq.m of boat houses.
Tang Van Phien, Director of Van Chai cooperative, said the first seven aquaculture farming households will raise money for a production fund.
He said the cooperative was born in 2008, offering rowing as a major tourist product with 60 small bamboo craft, 115 kayaks and five dragon-shaped boats, creating 115 jobs with monthly income of 5-6 million VND (217 – 260 USD).
Phien said the cooperative had outlined a plan to offer responsible tours to foreign visitors. In 2008-2013, responsible tours were held in Vung Vieng, benefiting village households to the tune of about 2 billion VND.
About 15,000 travel to the fishing village each month, even up to 21,000 during peak months, which has pressured the environment. The cooperative assigned two workers to collect garbage and equipped 60 small bamboo crafts with garbage collecting equipment.
The cooperative drew 5,000 VND per guest from service fees to renovate a lab facility.
Nguyen Van Cong, Director of the Quang Ninh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, attributed the success of the programme to full awareness of responsible tourism of all participating stakeholders and tourists as well.-VNA
MoLISA’s conference discusses rehabilitation models
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) held a conference in Hanoi on June 22 to discuss spreading successful drug rehabilitation models.
The event was part of Action Month for Drug Prevention and Control, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the “Entire people fight drug” day.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Vu Trong Dam said as of late May, more than 100,000 drug abusers nationwide had undergone treatment, rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation supervision.
However, relapse rates remain high, even up to 90 percent after two years, partly due to social discrimination.
Director of MoLISA’s Department of Social Vices Prevention Nguyen Xuan Lap lauded new rehabilitation models such as social re-integration support clubs, voluntary care and consulting teams and community-based rehabilitation, which have prevented thousands of drug users from relapsing.
Participants discussed vocational training, loan supply and job creation for rehabilitated people and proposed initiatives to improve policy effectiveness.
In conclusion, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung asked departments and agencies to step up communications to raise public awareness of rehabilitation and to reduce discrimination against drug users.
Foreign liner brings largest number of passenger landing Ba Ria – Vung Tau
Tan Cang – Cai Mep International Terminal in southern Ba Ria – Vung Tau province on June 23 welcomed the cruise ship Majestic, carrying the largest-ever number of passengers to land at the port.
The luxury liner arrived at the dock at 6:15 am with 1,532 crew members and 3,452 passengers, who will visit Ba Ria – Vung Tau and neighbouring provinces.
The province’s border guard force has sent staff to greet passengers at the dock and help them with customs clearance.
The ship travelled from Thailand to Vung Tau province and will depart for China this evening.
Da Nang seeks to prepare sufficient water for agriculture
The central coastal city of Da Nang is deploying a number of measures to ensure adequate water for agricultural production in 2017 as prolonged hot weather likely causes droughts.
The municipal People’s Committee has promulgated drought prevention solutions such as intensifying inspections of canals and rice fields, regulating water properly, and increasing operating hours of pumping stations.
The city has also built dams on the main irrigation axis, make full use of water from ponds, streams, and canals while shifting to grow drought-resistant crops, according to Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Thanh Hoa.
Deputy Director of the Da Nang Irrigation Exploitation and Management Company Le Van Sam said the company is managing 19 water reservoirs, 16 dams and two pumping stations, which together work to water a total area of over 615 hectares.
The company is upgrading the irrigation system and dredging canals, while installing dams at Hoa Trung and Dong Nghe lakes to keep water for the lower regions.
In the summer-autumn crop 2017, the agricultural sector has grown 2,522 ha of rice, 129 ha of maize, 254 ha of sesame, and 142 ha of vegetables of all kinds.
Second ISSF spotlights Industrial Revolution 4.0, smart city
The second International Student Science Forum (ISSF) took place in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22, focusing on the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and smart city development.
The three-day forum attracts the participation of 108 students from 10 countries.
They are set to present opinions on the role of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 in global development and smart city models and solutions.
Smart city services and citizens’ roles are also part of the discussion.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Nguyen Duc Nghia, Vice President of the Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM), said the southern city is leading Vietnam in innovations for sustainable development and integration.
The forum helps Vietnamese students exchange views and learn from their international peers, he added.
On the sidelines of the forum, international students will visit the Ho Chi Minh City high-tech industrial park and take part in exchange activities with students from the VNUHCM.
HCM City speeds up school construction to meet demand
The HCM City People’s Council’s Cultural and Social Affairs Board has instructed the city’s Department of Education and Training to speed up school construction to meet the increase in the number of students.
As many as 1,497 new classrooms will be put into use in the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the department.
The number of students is expected to increase by 59,000.
For a number of years, an average of 25,000 students whose families do not have permanent residency status newly enroll in school. Most of them live in districts 12, Gò Vấp, Bình Tân, Bình Chánh and Củ Chi.
At a meeting between the board and the department held earlier this month, Lê Hoài Nam, the department’s deputy head, said the annual increase of students posed serious difficulties for HCM City.
The city’s policy is to ensure that all children attend school, Nam said.
The department has made a detailed construction plan for each district, and all districts should draw up detailed land plans, he added.
Đỗ Đình Thiện, deputy head of People’s Committee in Bình Tân District, told Việt Nam News that the district has 100,151 students this year, an increase of 6,928 compared to last year.
The district has allocated VNĐ12.43 billion (US$545,175) to upgrade and buy teaching aids. One new kindergarten and one new primary school are under construction.
“The district is also following the city’s policy to ensure that all children, including those whose family does not have permanent residency status, attend school, which has led to a high number of students in each classroom,” Thiện said.
At primary schools in the district, for instance, each classroom has 38 students on average.
To reduce the number of students in every classroom, the district must build 100 more new schools by 2020.
“That number is a dream number,” he said, adding that it would be difficult to reach.
The district does not have enough public land to build schools, he said.
It also needs VNĐ500 billion to VNĐ1,000 billion each year from the city’s budget for school construction, but the city’s budget is too limited.
The entire city needs more than VNĐ50,000 billion for 722 school projects with a total of 12,000 classrooms by 2020.
Cheap-price shelters for patients and family members inside hospitals
Hospitals in Hà Nội are in dire need of more accommodation for hospital patients and their relatives from outside the city.
Patients and health sector workers hope that in the future, patients will have one bed each and relatives who need it will have accommodation.
Big hospitals in the city, such as Bạch Mai Hospital, Việt Đức Hospital and Central Pediatrics Hospital every day receive thousands of patients from other provinces and cities.
Each patient often has one or several family members accompanying them.
It’s common to see patients’ relatives resting in corridors, under stairs, on benches or under shade of tress in hospitals’ premises in Việt Nam. They can’t afford to rent accommodation while their loved one gets treated, putting them at risk of theft.
Facing this situation, many hospitals have called for social investment to construct temporary accommodation for patients’ relatives.
Central Lung Hospital provided new accommodation for patients’ relatives at the beginning of this year. The accommodation area, located on the top floor of a newly-built six-storey building, has three rooms with a total 34 beds.
Phạm Thành Chung, a hospital social worker, said that the rental fee was VNĐ50,000/ per person per day, cheaper than renting houses in the areas around the hospital.
Also early this year, Hà Nội-based Cancer Hospital’s Unit No 3 in Tân Triều Commune, Thanh Trì District launched cheap accommodation for patients and their relatives, with financial support from several charitable organisations.
The area, at a cost of VNĐ3.3 billion, includes three fully-equipment buildings behind the hospital. The hospital offers a bed free-of-charge to patients for their first month in the hospital then VNĐ15,000/ person per day afterwards.
Nguyễn Văn Anh, a patient’s relative said the price was ten times cheaper than renting a house outside the hospital. However, demand was twice as high as the capacity of 240 beds.
The Hospital K in Hà Nội is also offering free accommodation for 300 patients.
Nguyễn Thị Dần, 60, a patient at Hospital K in Hà Nội said that she felt very good when she could avail of this facility.
“On the first day here, other patients and I enjoyed a sweet party,” she said.
Hồ Nguyên Hoàng, a patient suffering from esophagus cancer at Hospital K, said: “We do not have to spend on accommodation and can stay at a warm place. I hope all hospitals have shelters like this for poor patients to have a place to sleep when they are admitted to the hospital.”
Hospital K director Trần Văn Thuấn said that to meet the real demand of patients, following the urging of Health Minister Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến, the hospital has co-operated with the Việt Nam CP Breeding Joint Stock Company to construct a residential complex for patients.
It will be offered for free at first, and later, the patients only have to pay VNĐ15,000 per person each day for electricity and water, he said.
Contest on new rural area, agricultural restructuring launched
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has launched a promotional writing contest about new rural area development and agricultural restructuring during the 2017-2020 period.
The contest, an initiative by the MARD, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Việt Nam Journalists’ Association, will begin this year, with awards to be gifted every year until it concludes in 2020.
Speaking at the launch ceremony held on Thursday, MARD minister Nguyễn Xuân Cường said the contest is aimed at increasing awareness of the press, creating a consensus and ensuring a social response to the new rural development programme and restructuring work of the agriculture sector.
The contest, according to Cường, will also help spread information on the Party and State’s policies and laws on new rural development, update the works of agricultural restructuring simultaneously, and recognise and encourage journalists, writers and individuals to actively participate and contribute to the promotion of the rural area development programme in association with agricultural restructuring.
Entries can be in four media disciplines -- video, audio, print and online papers. They should be news, inspective of whether they are reports, interviews, commentaries or feature stories, and should be qualified and accurately meet demands in terms of writing skill and design.
The awards will include one first prize worth some VNĐ15 million and two second prizes worth VNĐ7 million each.
Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ, who also attended the ceremony on Thursday, emphasised that the construction programme of new rural areas in association with agricultural restructuring was a long-term policy of the Party and the State.
“We have gone five years and achieved certain results. But there are heavy responsibilities ahead requiring cooperation of both the political system and the participation of the media,” Huệ said.
The deputy PM also stressed on the meaningfulness of the contest and important role of the media, saying channel of communication and dialogue between local authorities and the people in the implementation of the programme was essential.
Sand exploitation vessels on Chu River a grave concern
Several illegal sand exploitation vessels have been found operating along Chu River in the central province of Thanh Hoá.
However, local authorised agencies are finding it difficult to deter vessels owing to inadequate and weak human resources.
As a result, banks along the river have suffered serious erosion, narrowing the cultivable area of residents and threatening people’s safety.
On the river between Thiệu Toán and Thiệu Vũ communes in Thiệu Hoá District, some vessels were caught exploiting sand from the riverbed. Upon being chased by the inspectors’ vessel, they sped away at their fastest speed.
In Thiệu Nguyên Commune, a similar problem has occurred.
Nguyễn Văn Thảo, deputy head of Thiệu Nguyên Commune’s sand protection unit, said the unit was only able to chase vessels violating rules to stop them from illegally exploiting sand, instead of imposing fines, due to a shortage of inspectors.
He said a collaboration was necessary between authorised agencies to deter violations.
Nguyễn Văn Thắng, chairman of Thiệu Nguyên Commune’s People’s Committee, said the committee has set up a protection team with 13 members, a vessel, a belvedere and two observatory places to uncover and crack down on illegal sand exploitation vessels.
Funds were allocated from the commune’s budget. The commune has spent hundreds of millions of đồng to solve the issue, he said.
However, most vessels sped to neighbouring communes to escape chasing inspectors.
Since early this year, the committee has uncovered three cases of illegal sand exploitation, imposing fines totalling VNĐ13 million (US$572).
Phạm Đình Lam, chairman of Thiệu Toán Commune’s People’s Committee, said the committee had not granted licences to any vessel.
Lam said there were only three polices in charge of nearly 5km of the river. Therefore, illegal sand exploitation continued to occur.
In April, the committee fined two vessels fines of VNĐ3 million ($132) each.
Three arrested for eight dialysis deaths
Police in Hòa Bình Province have arrested three people suspected to be responsible for the deaths of eight patients who underwent kidney dialysis treatment at a local hospital in May.
They are Bùi Mạnh Quốc, Trần Văn Sơn and Hoàng Công Lương.
According to investigators, they will be charged in a criminal case involving one of the most serious medical incidents in recent years.
Authorities have blamed the deaths on water used in the dialysis treatment and improper maintenance and operation of medical equipment.
Bùi Mạnh Quốc, 31, director of Trâm Anh Water Treatment Ltd Co, is being investigated for manslaughter following the violation of professional rules.
Trần Văn Sơn, 27, an employee of the medical equipment department at the local General Hospital, is being investigated in connection with his lack of responsibility, leading to serious consequences.
Hoàng Công Lương, 31, a nephrology doctor, has been arrested for medical violations.
On May 29, 18 patients underwent kidney dialysis treatment at the hospital. Some later reported nausea, abdominal pain and shortness of breath.
Eight died the same day due to suspected anaphylactic shock.
The remaining 10 patients were transferred to Hà Nội’s Bạch Mai Hospital and have recovered from the incident.
Meanwhile, Trương Quý Dương, director of Hòa Bình General Hospital, and two other employees have been suspended for further investigation into the negligence and irresponsible actions that led to the incident.
Doctors volunteer to work in poor localities
As many as 78 young doctors have been recruited for a pilot project on sending doctors to disadvantaged areas, including mountainous, border areas and islands, from June.
The doctors will receive intensive training before being assigned to work in 37 poor districts in 13 provinces, the Ministry of Health said at a press conference in Hà Nội on Thursday.
The health ministry will hold a ceremony on June 28 to send seven young doctors to Bắc Hà District of the northern mountainous province of Lào Cai. The pilot project, approved by the ministry in 2013, gives priority to 62 poorest districts.
It is aimed at creating more opportunities for the poor and needy to gain access to better medical services, reduce the unnecessary transfer of patients to higher-level hospitals and ease the overload at central hospitals.
Head of the Organisation and Personnel Department Phạm Văn Tác said public health facilities at these disadvantaged areas still faced shortage of equipment, infrastructure and especially human resources.
These poor districts need some 600 doctors, he said.
The ministry has partnered with the Hà Nội Medical University to devise a framework and detailed training curricula for doctors trained under the project. Tác said the ministry will continue working with hospitals to recruit qualified doctors.
Health ministry statistics show that the country currently has more than 16,200 doctors working at the district level, making up 30 per cent of the country’s total doctors.
However, many poor districts continue to face a shortage of skills. In northern provinces such as Hà Giang, Cao Bằng and Yên Bái, many district general hospitals have only 7-8 doctors.
Fire destroys 5,000sq.m. warehouse near Sài Gòn port
A huge blaze that broke out late on Thursday night destroyed some 5,000sq.m of a warehouse near Sài Gòn Port in HCM City’s District 4.
The fire began at the first store of the warehouse, owned by the South Logistics Joint Stock Company, at around 10pm, and then quickly spread to the remaining four stores. Locals heard loud blasts from the warehouse.
No fatality was reported.
The municipal Department of Fire Prevention and Fighting mobilised nearly 200 firefighters and tens of fire trucks to the scene to extinguish the fire, which was completely stamped out at 1am on Friday.
Lê Tấn Bửu, director of the department, said the fire was huge, making it difficult for firefighters to access the site. They had to use machines to pump water from Sài Gòn River to extinguish the fire.
The case is under investigation.
Gout Research Center works with French institute, local universities to improve care
Thousands of gout patients with serious complications have been examined at the Polyclinics of the Gout Institute over the past 10 years, pointing to an alarming situation, according to doctors at the French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center.
Rare in Europe and Northern America, severe gout appears frequently in Việt Nam and several other emerging countries.
In these countries, gout is seldom treated by lowering uric acid with hypouricemic drugs, but instead pain and inflammation are treated, Dr. Thomas Bardin, co-director of the French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center, said.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid, causing formation of crystals in the joints.
The crystals first generate acute excruciating pain episodes and will end in joint destruction as crystals infiltrate the joints of patients not treated with hypouricemic drugs, Bardin said at a meeting held on June 20 in HCM City.
If uric acid excess, the primary cause of the disease, is not dealt with, crystal deposits will grow heavier with time, leading to serious clinical consequences.
Crippling complications appear: joints are damaged and crystals accumulate in various parts of the body, especially the skin and the kidneys.
Health experts said that neglected gout leads to premature death. Gout is associated with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiopathies, kidney failure, dyslipidemia and increased risk of cardiovascular death.
People generally think of gout as a disease acute in nature and untreatable, and generally address it with anti-inflammatory drugs harmful to the stomach, kidneys and heart.
Many patients use cortisol derivatives, which have anti-inflammatory effects but do not keep uric acid down and may cause many side effects, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.
In Việt Nam, patients sometimes use medicines from unknown sources. Despite their importance, recommendations about lifestyle such as physical exercise, weight loss, and restriction on alcoholic drinks.
The French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center is closely associated with the Polyclinics of the Gout Institute as there are numerous patients at the clinic whose conditions can be examined for research purposes.
The aim of the research is to improve gout care through optimising the gout treatment protocol, and to better understand the most serious complications of the disease, a goal that can only be achieved through cooperation at the university level between Việt Nam and France and, in the future, with other nations.
In 2011, the Gout Research Institute, now the French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center, was established with the purpose of improving gout management in interaction with the Polyclinics.
In 2014, the Gout Institute began a gout management programme by introducing EULAR (European League of Associations for Rheumatism) recommendations about hypo-uricemic treatment.
The management protocol, first developed by Vietnamese and then improved by French-Vietnamese cooperation, combines modern medicine with nonpharmacological therapies (diet, lifestyle changes, ailments), intensive follow-ups and full patient education.
On June 20, many cooperation agreements were signed at the Gout Institute.
The agreement between the French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center and University Paris 7 (also called Paris Diderot) officially recognised the French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center.
The agreement signed within the framework of health cooperation, an active field of France-Vietnam cooperation, will encourage bilateral exchanges between researchers on both sides.
An agreement between the French-Vietnamese Gout Research Center and the HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy was also signed for better cooperation between both sides and to assert the involvement of the Center in medical research in Việt Nam.
The agreement between the Polyclinics of the Gout Institute and Military Hospital 175-Defense Ministry will formalise the ongoing cooperation between the two health institutions in managing gout patients with serious complications.
This cooperation will help bring about a coordinated procedure which will provide better care for gout patients.
Conference focuses on teaching and learning in the digital age
The latest trends in language teaching and learning in the digital age will be the main topic of discussion at the Vietnam-USA Society English Centers’ annual Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) conference held on July 21 at the White Palace Convention Center in HCM City’s Phú Nhuận District.
The conference is expected to attract more than 2,000 English language teachers in Việt Nam and other countries in the region.
They will have an opportunity to hear about the latest teaching trends through presentations by leading English language teaching (ELT) experts from the City University of New York, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Griffith University, and from major publishers like Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Macmillan, Pearson, Cengage, and National Geographic Learning.
With the theme “Redefining English Language Teaching & Learning in the 21st Century Context”, the 12th TESOL conference features presentations and discussions on what it is like to teach and learn English today.
In the digital age, ELT curriculum and textbook design will have to be modified to meet the needs of a generation of e-learners.
The developing digital technology has produced a new breed of English learners who have become more autonomous but also more connected. Will “connectivism”, dubbed the learning theory for the digital age, be the up-and-coming trend in ELT?
This year, the Vietnam-USA Society English Centers (VUS) TESOL conference will explore 14 topics such as developing communication skills in the 21st century classroom; innovation, technology, and ELT: A Critical Look; re-defining the high-stakes, four-skill academic English proficiency testing with automated scoring technology; TED talks and more – achieving powerful communication in the classroom; creative assessments for Young Learners; and 21st century education and an employable graduates.