Lang Son confirms no H7N9 infection

The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) has recently quashed rumours about a possible outbreak of avian flu H7N9 in the northern border province of Lang Son.

It received 13 suspected samples for testing from Lang Son and all proved negative for the deadly A/H7N9 avian flu virus strain, the NIHE said.

All the patients have high temperatures and they are suspected of catching measles.

Doctor Doan The My, Director of the Lang Son Provincial Hospital, affirmed that in compliance with Health Ministry guidelines, the hospital has promptly tested all suspected H7N9 cases and, so far, no patients have succumbed to the virus.

Lang Son province has intensified tough measures to combat a possible outbreak of the H7N9 epidemic which is spreading across southern China, primarily in Guangdong province bordering Vietnam.

Quarantine units have been established, and sterilization measures undertaken to strictly monitor immigrants entering Lang Son through border gates and keep a close watch on severe acute respiratory infections in the community.

HCM City to set up new post-planning office

HCM City will set up an office responsible for post-planning supervision to ensure the city's sustainable development, according to an official of the municipal Department of Planning and Architecture (DoPA).

Department Director Tran Chi Dung said that urban management is very important work for the local authorities since it would help the city ensure its sustainable development not only in the interim but also in the long-term.

"Acknowledging this, the department will focus its efforts on post-zoning management work. To do so, the agency has decided to establish an office which will be responsible for managing zoning projects after they are implemented," Dung told the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) daily newspaper.

The agency, which is due to make its debut in the first quarter of this year, will cover various duties related to planning work, including architecture, technical design, environmental landscape, and technical infrastructure, he said.

It will also monitor the public announcement of zoning projects after they are approved, and the setting up of landmarks according to planning projects.

"To ensure the efficacy of the post-zoning management office, DoPA will coordinate with other departments and districts to make urban development projects based on the city's socio-economic development in different periods," Dung added.

According to DoPA, the agency has to date, assessed and submitted to the municipal People's Committee for approval, 22 projects related to adjustments of the planning of urban and rural districts in the city.

The department has also implemented the People's Council's Resolution No. 16/2012/NQ-HDND, according to which it approved 283 urban detailed plans with the ratio 1/2000 on a total area of 47,266 hectares, including179 new plans with a combined area of 31,657 hectares and 104 adjusted plans with a combined area of 15,609 hectares.

Before the resolution, the city had approved 290 detailed urban plans covering on an area of 35,992 hectares and no adjustments have been required of them to date.

This means that the city government has completed the urban detail planning with the ratio 1/2000 across the whole city.

Ha Noi suburbs face shortage of clean water

Nearly 65 per cent of Ha Noi's suburban residents were not getting enough clean water at the end of 2013, due to funds shortage and poor management by the local authorities.

The residents of Ba Vi District's Phu Son Commune are suffering due to lack of safe water supply and many have to use the water from wells, stagnant ponds and streams.

"For decades, we have been using such water sources for daily activities such as bathing and cleaning and have to reserve rainwater for drinking," the commune's People's Committee chairman Chu Anh Tuan recently told Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper.

As there was no other source of water, localities were forced to use water from unsafe sources even though the people were aware of the risks and harmful effects, said Tuan.

Draft statistics revealed that some 50 per cent of the commune's population had to buy clean water from vendors in recent years, at prices ranging from VND70,000 to100,000 (US$3-5) per cubic metre.

On average, a family has to buy four to six cubic metres of clean water per month, though the source of this water is not clearly identified.

Phung Nghia Phong, a resident in Phu Huu Hamlet, said his family spent VND2 to 2.5 million ($95-119) annually on buying clean water, while the total annual income of the four-member family is between VND15 to 17 million ($700-800).

Those who cannot afford to buy clean water have to dig holes in their gardens, and pump sand and water from the Da river, ponds and lakes so that the water seeps into wells.

The lack of clean water has also been reported in many other suburban areas such as Soc Son, Ba Vi, Me Linh, Gia Lam, Phu Xuyen and Ung Hoa districts.

Up to 80 per cent of Thach That District's population has particularly suffered from a serious shortage of fresh water in both dry and rainy seasons for the past 10 years.

In order to tackle the problem, the city has spent over VND100 billion (nearly $5 million) on a project that will supply clean water to Ha Noi's rural areas by 2020, according to Dao Duy Tam, deputy director of the city's Agriculture and Rural Development Department.

Under the project, 123 clean water supply works have been built in the suburban districts of the city but many of them have not been used for four or five years due to shortage of funds and poor management by the local authorities, Tam said. In addition, the local authorities have not paid adequate attention to managing and maintaining the treatment plants, he added.

Ha Noi set a target two months ago that the whole rural population would have access to clean water by 2015, and 60 per cent of them will have clean water that meets the Health Ministry's standards.

Forest fire breaks out in Hoang Lien National Park

Fire swept through an area of Hoang Lien National Park, about 10 km from southwest of Lao Cai province’s Sa Pa district on February 2.

Despite difficult hilly terrain, the firefighters managed tostamp out some of the small fires by noon on February 3.

Nguyen Ngoc Hinh, Vice Chairman of Sa Pa district’s People’s Committee confirmed that several small fires were now under control.

However, 300 fight fighters have been mobilized to tackle the fire which is at risk of spreading to the primeval forest.

It is estimated that the fire will be extinguished by the end of February 3.

One killed in HCM City house fire

One local was confirmed dead and four others were injured in a private house fire in HCM City’s District 10 on February 1, the second day of the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

Nguyen Thao Phuong Dung, 32, and her friend Thao paid a Tet visit to Ngo Thi Hao, 87, living in on 200 Ngo Gia Tu Road, ward 4, district 10.

Hosts and guests were chatting when the fire broke out from the second floor at around 04.30pm.

They all rushed to the third and fourth floors to escape the roaring fire.

Dung smashed the glass window of the fourth floor, but slipped and fell to the ground to death.

The Municipal Fire Brigade deployed 7 fire engines and an access ladder truck to the scene. The blaze was completely put out in half an hour.

Through the access ladder, fire fighters rescued four people from smoke inhalation on the fourth floor who were shortly admitted to Trung Vuong hospital for treatment.

Many home furnishings were burnt down at the scene.

First Vietnamese school for children inaugurated in Japan

Vietnamese ambassador to Japan Doan Xuan Hung attended the inauguration ceremony of a Vietnamese school for Vietnamese children in Tokyo on February 2.

The school started a new school year on January 18, with one class for pre-school children and two classes for primary school children.

It is designed to not only teach Vietnamese language but organise extracurricular activities during the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, Mid-Autumn Festival (the eighth full-moon month), and Vietnam Teachers’ Day to educate children about traditional culture.

Ambassador Hung acknowledged relevant parties’ efforts in building the school and expressed his hope the model will be replicated across Japan in the near future.

Do Van Trung, Educational Counsellor of the Vietnamese Embassy, stressed the school will help preserve Vietnamese identity and language for Vietnamese generations in Japan.

He revealed the model will be multiplied in Japan after the test run.  

Japanese Ministry of Justice statistics show the number of Vietnamese residents in Japan exceeded 60,000 in 2013, an increase of 30% compared to 2012.

HCM City buses million-plus residents home for Tet

Bus stations in HCM City have transported over 1 million passengers back to their home towns during the Tet festival.

Mien Tay (Westbound) bus station, which serves the Mekong Delta, transported 444,000 passengers over the holiday and Mien Dong (Eastbound) bus station, which operates in the central and northern provinces ferried 415,000 customers.

"However, the number of people who use buses to return to their home town has decreased from 3 per cent to 5 per cent in comparison with the same period last year," Tran Van Phuong, deputy director of Mien Tay bus station said.

Thuong Thanh Hai, deputy director of Mien Dong bus station reported that on February 4, buses began transporting people from central and northern provinces back to HCM City.

At Binh Khanh ferry, the number of tourists coming to Can Gio has sharply decreased.

During peak hours, the Cat Lai ferry, transported 80,000 people from District 2, HCM City to Nhon Trach, Dong Nai province, however the number of cars dropped from 4,500 to 1,500 per day thanks to the new HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay highway.

According to the management board of the HCM City – Long Thanh - Dau Giay highway, on Monday, February 3 there were nearly 17,000 cars travelling on the highway, nearly double than on the first day of opening earlier this year.

The highway has decreased the journey time from HCM City to Vung Tau by an hour. The highway has also reduced the amount of traffic at Suoi Tien tourism park and Vung Tau – Bien Hoa intersection.

It is expected that the number of cars on the highway will increase when people return after their vacation.

Nam Dinh needs 6,500 extra labourers in 2014

The northern province of Nam Dinh will need 6,500 more labourers to work in its industrial zones (IZs) in 2014, mainly in the fields of garment and textile and fabric dyeing.

Nguyen Huu Trong, deputy head of the provincial management board of industrial zones, said that despite economic difficulties, businesses operating in IZs still receive a lot of orders.

However, many of them have faced a shortage of employees since 2013, he added.

There are 127 enterprises operating in three IZs in Nam Dinh, creating jobs for 25,000 people with an average monthly salary of 3.8 million VND (178 USD) per person.- Poverty reduction, better social welfare named as 2014 tasks

Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen underscored job creation, reduction of poor households and guarantee of social welfares as key 2014 priorities during a recent interview granted to the media.

She said more ethnic groups have enjoyed better lives thanks to a nation-wide campaign to eradicate poverty, saying that it has received warm acclaim from the United Nations and the world.

Chuyen, however, also admitted that the rate of nearly-poor households and those relapsing into poverty remains high, as much as 50 percent in some areas.

In order to resolve this, the ministry will do all it can to ensure basic social services like health care, education, housing and water supply, information, legal assistance, production development via incentives, vocational training, facilitation of agro-forestry-fisheries and infrastructure ramp-up.

Simultaneously, the sector will review and tailor policies on sustainable poverty reduction, especially in ethnic communities, while investing in key fields to avoid wastefulness.

Referring to vocational training, she said this will generate jobs for over 1.6 million workers with a focus on the poor, ex-soldiers and those displaced by construction projects. Up to 1.78 million will be recruited and undergo training, she said.

According to her, the ministry will raise allowances and adjust salaries for families of war heroes, offering 97 percent of them living conditions that are on par or higher than those in their residential areas. Better care will be given to those living in need along the way, she added.-

Many hospitals still ignore social workers

Many Vietnamese social workers lacked a professional touch, but their role was still being ignored by most hospitals, said Tran Quy Tuong, deputy director of the Ministry of Health Medical Services Administration.

Social work will enhance the quality of the treatment at hospitals. However, many Vietnamese social workers lack a professional touch and their role is still being ignored by most hospitals, said Tran Quy Tuong, deputy director of the Ministry of Health Medical Services Administration.

Social workers are responsible for guiding new patients on the "ins and outs" of health procedures, supplying information on hospital services, giving them psychological support and organising charitable work.

In 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Ministry approved a project to develop social working as a career for the next 10 years. Since then, only a few hospitals have benefited from the scheme because of a lack of people interested in the job.

A recent survey of 22 hospitals across the country showed that only five hospitals had a unit specialising in social work. But the organisation of the units varied from place to place. Units were under the managagement board at one hospital, but controlled by the nursing ward or youth union at other institutions..

Tuong said that social workers were the "bridge" connecting patients and hospital staff, providing benefits to both sides.If allowed to function properly, they were highly useful in helping rehabilitate and taking care of the mental health of patients, including the victims of domestic violence and abuse.

However, he admitted that most hospitals still thought that social work was simply a matter of supplying extra information on health care and connecting people with charity programmes.

Duong Thi Minh Thu, head of the National Paediatrics Hospital's Social Work Division, claimed the institution is the leading hospital in the north in implementing social work.

He said the hospital's social workers helped patients and medical workers understand each other, helped patients and their families clearly understand the hospital's procedures and health insurance matters. In 2013 alone, its social workers arranged 80,000 free-of-charge meals and VND4.4 billion (US$200,500) from charities to support poor patients.

Director of the HCM City-based 115-bed hospital, Phan Van Bau, said patients felt relieved to be surrounded by such caring and professional workers. He added that their work allowed busy doctors and nurses more time to attend to their own duties.

Tuong said the two hospitals were rare examples of health-care services that had activities in place to train and develop the careers of social workers. He added that the Ministry was compiling a circular regulating their responsibilities so that everyone knew, including medical staff.

When the circular is issued, management at hospitals will have to pay much more attention to developing social-workers' careers because it is a vital part of the treatment procedure.

Country reports second human H5N1 avian flu death in 2014

A woman infected with bird flu virus H5N1 died last week- marking the second human fatality from the virus in 2014, said Chief of Preventive Medicine Department Nguyen Dac Phu.

All of cases infected with the avian fluenza virus have a history of contact with live poultry.

The 60-year-old woman in Mekong Delta Province of Dong Thap was admitted to Cho Moi District Hospital in neighboring province of An Giang, suffering from fever, severe pneumonia. Then she was transferred to An Giang Provincial Hospital and died on January 28th.

The woman had a history of contact with live poultry before the onset on her illness, according to the department.

The people who had been around the woman are observing closely and the Dong Thap Province Preventive Medicine Center is put the outbreak area under control, said Mr. Nguyen Dac Phu.

This is the second human case of the H5N1 as the virus came back in 2014. Last month a 52-year-old man in Binh Phuoc Province was tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu virus. He died on the way to a hospital in southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City on January 18th.

The man developed a fever and other symptoms on Jan. 11 after he slaughtered a duck bought in the village where chickens died of unknown reasons several days later.

Vietnam's last human bird flu death was reported in April last year. In 2013, there  were two cases including one death, according to the World Health Organization. Between 2003 and 2009, 112 cases including 57 deaths were reported in Vietnam.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/Nhandan/SGGP/VGP