Health Ministry warns of unpredictable diseases in summer

The Health Ministry has warned of unpredictable development of diseases and epidemics during the hot summer and urged prompt preventive measures.

At a press briefing on May 29 in Ho Chi Minh City, Deputy Director of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department Truong Dinh Bac said a total of 4,857 cases of measles were recorded in the country since the beginning of this year with most patients being children under 10.

He noted that the number of new measles cases has dropped but close monitoring is still needed as not all children receive full vaccinations against the disease, particularly those in remote areas.

According to the department’s statistics, the national rate of vaccination for children under two reached 96.1 percent, with 49 out of the total 63 cities and provinces achieving 95 percent or more. Twelve others reported vaccination rate of between 90-95 percent.

The Health Ministry plans to conduct a measles and rubella vaccination drive nationwide for all children from 1 to 14 years old in August.

At the same time, the hand-foot-mouth disease and dengue fever are another cause for concern. With a total of 24,730 cases reported in 62 cities and provinces so far this year, the hand-foot-mouth disease has claimed two lives in the southern provinces of Long An and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. The Health Ministry reported that 78.5 percent of the cases were in southern provinces.

Meanwhile, 9,011 cases of dengue fever had been registered in 42 cities and provinces by May 18, with more than 83 percent of dengue fever cases in the southern region. Five people have died of this disease this year .

The Health Ministry has been making efforts to improve the prevention and treatment of measles, hand-foot-mouth and dengue fever as well as some newly-emerging diseases in 2014 through the supply of more medicines and equipment to hospitals at all levels. Refreshing courses are also held for medical staff from provincial hospitals.

Up-to-date information about infectious diseases and prevention measures can be found at the Preventive Medicine Department website

Fire destroys market in Tay Ninh


A fire broke out at a border market in Thanh Long commune in the southern province of Tay Ninh yesterday.

The fire destroyed all 20 kiosks at the market, causing an estimated loss of more than VND2 billion (US$95,000). No human loss was reported.

The fire was stamped out in two hours. The case is under investigation.

US charity to brighten Children's Day

Robert Valentino Kalatschan will cook for a group of children from six centres of the Giving It Back to Kids organisation in the central city on Children's Day.

Kalatschan, from the United States, and his wife Dorothea established the organisation in 2002 after they visited Viet Nam to adopt a child. They will also give away prizes for the best students.

The organisation is home to 90 children, aged 3–18, from homeless or underprivileged backgrounds. It provides psychological and emotional support, in addition to education, at the six centres.

Since its inception, the organisation has also provided US$3.2 million for charitable programmes, which help single mothers and girls, covering the costs of eye, heart and orthopaedic surgery for children, and donating wheelchairs to people with disabilities.

Police sieze rare wood in northern province

Police of the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai have seized 14.5 tonnes of rose wood, an endangered species, being illegally transported on a bus.

The bus driver informed the police that he was hired to transport the wood from Lao Cai to China but failed to show any permission documents.

The case is under investigation.

Rose wood tree is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is prohibited from being exploited, traded or transported in Viet Nam.

Vietnam responds World No Tobacco Day 2014

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, including Vietnam, mark World No Tobacco Day (May 31) to highlight the risks associated with smoking.

The Ministry of Health held a meeting in Hanoi on May 30, talking to the public about the hazards of smoking and calling for an increase in taxes on cigarette consumption. Tobacco use annually accounts for around six million adult deaths, 10% of the total deaths, which can be avoided if people would just say no to tobacco, the ministry announced.

These unnecessary deaths are most likely to rise to over 8 million by 2030 if timely preventative measures are not taken, it added.

The national strategy on tobacco harm control and prevention aims to reduce the male smoking rate to 39% by 2020 from 47.4% at present. Therefore, Vietnam sets a target of increasing the special consumption tax for tobacco from 65% at present to 105% by 2015.

Noi Bai-Lao Cai highway to open in August

The Noi Bai-Lao Cai highway will open in August, project officials have confirmed.

The highway is 245 kilometres long and passes through five provinces and cities, namely Ha Noi, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Yen Bai and Lao Cai.

In August, 180 kilometres of the 245 kilometres will be opened to traffic.

Costing nearly US$1 billion, the highway is expected to boost tourism and socio-economic development in the northern midlands and the north-western region.

It will reduce travel time between Ha Noi and the Sa Pa resort town and the Lao Cai International Border Gate.

The highway will have hundreds of tunnels and crossroads.

Waterway police reviews anti-crime work

The General Department for Social Order and Security Management yesterday reviewed its recent action against smuggling, commercial fraud and the smuggling of forbidden goods via waterways.

The department is under the Ministry of Public Security. Vu Do Anh Dung, director of the Waterway Police Department, said that during the recent anti-crime drive, the waterway police solved 140 cases, captured 159 suspects, brought to the court 19 cases and prosecuted 19 people.

They also confiscated over 20,000 tonnes of coal, 1,840 tonnes of ore, 133 kilogrammes of explosives, 14 handmade mines and many other types of forbidden goods. The value of the confiscated goods is estimated to be more than VND143 billion (US$6.8 million).

The waterway polices achievements include the capture of a boat which was transporting 1,840 tonnes of ore without invoices to China from Hai Phong, with the cargo worth approximately VND3 billion (over $142,850); and the busting of a criminal gang which was illegally exploiting nearly 114,500 cubic metres of sand worth VND6 billion ($285,700), in Thuong Tin, Ha Noi.

Lieutenant General Le Quy Vuong, Deputy Minister of Public Security, asked the waterway police to play a central part in anti-crime activities and to be proactive in making plans and cooperating with the other police forces for overall effectiveness.

Vietnam performs well in rural electrification

Over 15 years of implementation, the rural electrification programme has achieved impresive progress, said the Vietnam Business Forum Magazine (VBF).

The programme has been developed in poor rural areas, mountainous areas and islands and at the same time, gradually upgraded the grid to ensure the safety of power supply for the demand of socio-economic development.

At the online conference reviewing 15 years of rural electrification (1998-2013 period) organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Hanoi, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said: “In 2013, 97 percent of rural households were provided power, which had enormous meaning."

Victoria Kwakwa, Country Director of the World Bank in Vietnam said that Vietnam's success in the field of electrification has been recognised worldwide and that many countries wish to learn experience from Vietnam. At the same time, the World Bank is committed to continuing to support Vietnam through the provision of infrastructure investment, contributing to the implementation of electrification programme in 2014-2020 period.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said the total investment capital of the country for rural power grid was over VND48 trillion. The success of the rural electrification stems from the right policies and directions of the Party and State; the proper coordination of the Vietnam Electricity (EVN) and the support of international organisations.

Some typical projects of rural electrification include the power supply project for five provinces without electricity in the Central Highlands. The project was implemented from 2006 to 2009 with a total investment capital of VND1,300 billion supplying power to 1,331 villages and 116,000 households.

Along with the use of power sources for communes, villages and households without electricity on land, with the aim of ensuring security for island districts of the country, a series of power supply projects from the national grid through underground cables have been implemented including the power transmission project to Co To Island district which had a total investment capital of nearly VND1,106 billion and was carried out in 2 years of 2012 and 2013, providing electricity to over 1,600 households.

At the conference, Chairman of the Board of Members of the Vietnam Electricity (EVN) Hoang Quoc Vuong said that in the upcoming time, EVN will continue to enhance supplying capacity; ensure electricity quality serving conversion; and develop new models in agricultural production.

It will also implement new rural programme of the Party and government through investment in upgrading and repairing medium and low voltage grid at 7,000 rural communes, which will help improve the quality of power supply and reduce power losses, with the investment capital of about US$2 billion.

Memorial house built to honour Vietnamese, Lao war heroes

A memorial house to commemorate Vietnamese and Lao soldiers who laid down their lives in Laos during wartime was inaugurated in the country’s central province of Khammouan on May 29.

Youngsters from Vietnam’s central province of Quang Binh and the host region offered incense for the war heroes, who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation’s independence, peace and freedom.

The house was erected by a group of young people from Quang Binh province after nearly three months of construction and at a total cost of over VND200 million (US$9,400).

Earlier on May 14, the remains of 32 Vietnamese volunteers and experts who lost their lives in Laos were laid to rest at a cemetery in Quang Binh’s Bo Trach district.

The remains were gathered during the 2013-14 dry season, beginning last October, with close coordination between Quang Binh and Khammoune provinces.

Vietnamese, Cuban youths strengthen cooperation

Youth unions of Vietnam and Cuba hold great potential for expanding cooperation, said First Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union (HCMYU) Central Committee, Nguyen Dac Vinh.

Vinh made the remarks in Hanoi on May 29 while receiving a Cuban delegation lead by First Secretary of the Communist Youth Union of Cuba, Yuniasky Crespo Baquero.

Vinh briefed his guests on major organizational structure of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union with a focus on young people’s voluntary activities.

He affirmed the HCMYU’s recognition of importance to fostering traditional friendship and cooperation with Cuban friends.

He highlighted tremendous opportunities for bilateral cooperation, especially in the fields of media, tourism, business, and youth work.

For his part, Yuniasky Crespo Baquero expressed his hope that the two sides will launch more exchange programmes in the coming time.

HKI provides eye care for children

Thanks to remarkable results in Kon Tum province, Helen Keller International (HKI) is expanding a project providing care for pupils’ eyes in Nam Dinh and Hanoi.

Nguyen Thi Ven, Director of the Kon Tum province Department of Health said the project which has been carried out in the province over the past two years has achieved noteworthy results.

Nearly 40,000 pupils from 35 primary and junior secondary schools have been provided with free eye care check-ups and glasses as needed. The qualification of ophthalmological staff has been improved while eye care centres have been equipped with modern facilities.

Communications programmes and training courses for teachers and medical staff have been organised to raise the awareness of the importance of eye care and wearing proper glasses.

HKI in coordination with the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) has provided basic ophthalmological equipment and organised training courses on refraction disorder for medical staff in nine districts in Kon Tum and on glasses installation skills for 13 private eye care shops.

VNIO Director Do Nhu Hon said the project has been extraordinarily beneficial and worthwhile, contributing to national blindness prevention programme and raising public awareness of eye care and qualification of ophthalmological centres.

He expressed his hope that the project will be expanded to many localities across the country, helping to reduce refraction disorder diseases at schools.

Risk of hand, foot and mouth disease, dengue fever high

The Ministry of Health yesterday warned about a serious risk of dengue fever and hand, foot and mouth disease outbreaks in summer if drastic prevention and containment measures are not taken.

An average of 100,000 cases of dengue are recorded every year in Viet Nam and 100 people die of the mosquito-borne disease, according to Truong Dinh Bac, deputy head of the ministry's Department of Preventive Medicine.

This year more than 9,400 cases have been reported in 42 cities and provinces, including six deaths in HCM City and the southern provinces of Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, and Ca Mau.

Most of the cases occurred in the southern and central regions, which respectively accounted for 83.4 per cent and 13.2 per cent.

The number of cases is now on the rise since the outbreaks usually begin in May when the rains start, Bac told a press briefing in HCM City yesterday.

Eradication of mosquitoes and their larvae and emptying stagnant water containers and flower pots are among the main measures to prevent the disease, he said.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is also entering its peak period, with a significant increase in the number of cases in HCM City (29 per cent), Ba Ria-Vung Tau (27.8 per cent), Ca Mau (18.7 per cent), Lam Dong (18.6 per cent), and Soc Trang (8.4 per cent) incomparison with with the same period last year.

A total of 24,730 cases have been reported in 62 cities and provinces, with two people dying in the southern Long An and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces so far this year.

The number of measles cases has declined over the last few weeks, with only a few patients being admitted every week at the Central Hospital of Pediatrics, according to the Treatment and Examination Management Department.

More than 4,660 cases have so far been reported across the country, with 145 people dying of the disease and related illnesses.

Social insurance fund needs better management

Viet Nam's social insurance debt is about VND7.4 trillion (US$352.3 million), making it difficult for the fund to remain viable and provide social security, officials said at an online discussion held on the Government website on Wednesday.

Tran Dinh Lieu, head of the Viet Nam Social Insurance Collection Board, said as many as 300,000 firms were behind in paying social insurance premiums for their workers.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, about 16 million workers should have mandatory social insurance. However, only 11 million workers have registered to join the compulsory social insurance scheme.

"The imbalance between collections and payments makes the fund unsustainable in the long term," Lieu said.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that if nothing is done to correct the situation, the Viet Nam Social Security Fund could experience deficits by 2021 and run out of funds by 2034.

Lieu noted that since it was implemented in 2007, the Law on Social Insurance has not been effective in encouraging more workers to join the social insurance scheme and allow social insurance agencies more authority to punish violators.

Speaking at a meeting earlier in the week organised by the National Assembly Committee on Social Affairs, vice chairperson of the committee, Bui Sy Loi, said the goal of the revised Law on Social Insurance was to encourage workers in the non-formal sectors to participate in social insurance and by 2020, half of the labour force would participate in social insurance.

The revised Social Insurance Law would also require that social insurance payment be calculated based on the workers' main salary and allowances as stated in the labour contract.

It would also enhance the role of social insurance agencies to monitor, inspect and punish violators.

According to Lieu, only 900 out of 6,000 employers who have violated social insurance policies have been hit with administrative fines.

Earlier in the week, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said even though the proposal on increasing the retirement age to 62 for men and 60 for women was part of the solution for sustaining the fund, she said the four-month incremental increase would not significantly affect the labour market.

The adjustment would begin with state employees in 2016, with the retirement age increasing by four months each year until it hit 62 for men and 60 for women.

Those working under dangerous conditions would still be allowed to retire earlier. 

Cham Islands to join national grid

The Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) is undertaking a project in 2015 to connect the Cham Islands in central Quang Nam province to the national power grid, in a move which has already been approved by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.

With a total investment of around 500 billion VND (23.5 million USD), the project consists of a 15.5km long 22kV undersea cable line that is 15.5 km long, eight transformer stations and a 16-km low voltage transmission line.

Half of the investment is sourced from the Electricity of Vietnam.

The Cham Islands (Cu Lao Cham) constitute a group of eight islets, which form part of the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, a world Biosphere Reserve recognised by the UNESCO, in the East Sea .

They are famous for many sand beaches and forested hills. Facilities for camping, swimming and scuba diving are available for vacationers.

Vietnamese in Australia act to support coast guards

The Vietnamese Students’ Association in Western Australia (VISAWA) has engaged in an array of activities to help safeguard Vietnam’s sovereignty.

One notable initiative is a programme calling for support to Vietnam’s coast guards who are performing their duties in the East Sea.

The newly launched drive has so far collected more than 30 million VND (1,400 USD) from collectives and individuals in Australia.

The money is planned to be sent to the Vietnam Coast Guard High Command in late May to help them with their vital missions.

VISAWA said through this programme, they hope to stand by coast guard officers in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty.

Earlier, the association sent an open letter to the high command, showing their support to the Vietnamese Government and the forces in solving the East Sea issue.

At the beginning of May 2014, China illegally dispatched the rig Haiyang Shiyou-981, as well as a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Vietnam’s waters and positioned the rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude. The location is 80 miles deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

China’s armed vessels have aggressively fired high-power water cannons at and intentionally rammed against Vietnamese public-service and civil ships, causing damage to many boats and injuring many people on board.

On May 26, Chinese ship 11209 sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel while it was operating normally in its traditional fishing ground near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

On May 27, China moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 22 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds east longitude. The new location is 25 nautical miles from Tri Ton Island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago and 23 nautical miles east-northeast from the old location, still completely within Vietnam’s continental shelf. With the move, China has kept on violating Vietnam ’s sovereign right and jurisdiction.

Poverty programmes launched in central Vietnam

A poverty reduction project targeting the Central Highlands and central coastal region was launched at a conference in Gia Lai province on May 29.

The launching ceremony was attended by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dao Quang Thu and World Bank Country Director in Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa.

With a total capital of 165 million USD borrowed from the WB, the project will be carried out in the four Central Highland provinces of Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak and Dak Nong, and two central coastal localities of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai from now to 2019.

The project aims to increase locals’ living conditions through the improvement of their livelihoods and infrastructure.

After six years of implementation, it will benefit about 540,000 people in disadvantaged areas.

Deputy Minister Thu stated that this is the largest-scale poverty reduction project in the regions, and as such it is is expected to importantly contribute to the country’s socio-economic development. A similar project is also being implemented in the northern region.

At the conference, WB experts discussed social welfare policies and proposed measures to inspect the project during its implementation.-

Lifebuoys presented to students living near waterways

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the Labour Federation of the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long on May 28 presented 120 lifebuoys to primary students in Mang Thit district.

The organistions also took this occasion to grant 20 scholarships to children of poor workers in the locality.

From now to the end of June, the provincial federation will give 380 similar lifebuoys for children in Tam Binh and Tra On districts and Binh Minh commune, along with 20 scholarships.

Head of the VGCL’s fund for children, Do Thi Yen, said in 2014, the fund will provide more than 15,500 lifebuoys for primary students living near waterways in 13 provinces and cities in the region.

She said she hopes the facilities will help them make a habit of using lifebuoys whenever travelling on water, thus minimising the risk of drowning, which is the main cause of death among children in the region, especially in the rainy season.

HCM City creates jobs for 25,500 labourers in May

Ho Chi Minh City created jobs for more than 25,500 labourers in May, raising the number of jobs created since the beginning of the year to 122,190, accounting for over 46% of the year’s target, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Online Newspaper reported.

Besides, the Vietnam’s southern economic hub adopted 147 loan projects for business and production from the fund for training and creating jobs for those whose land is reallocated to new purposes.

According to Tran Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Centre of Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information (FALMI), in May the city experiences an increasing need for recruitment of skilled and professional labourers.

In particular, the demand for technical workers and those who have vocational training from the textile and garment, leather footwear, guarding, construction, sales, and service sectors is expected to see a 57.5% increase compared to the same period last year.

At a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh on May 27, HCM City Chairman Le Hoang Quan said the socio-economic situation in the city has improved in the year to date with major economic indicators posting positive growth, according to the Saigon Times Daily.

He said that the index of industrial production (IIP) in the period rose 5.3 percent over a year ago and industrial production continued expansion.

The City licensed 120 new foreign-invested projects with combined registered capital of nearly 800 million USD from January to May, a year-on-year increase of 119.2 percent. It now has around 5,029 active foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with total pledged capital of more than 34 billion USD.