Two transnational drug trafficking rings busted

Border guards in Thanh Hoa province have arrested two drug traffickers, seizing large quantities of drugs, paraphernalia and other contraband.

On May 7, they caught An Tuan Anh, 20, red-handed transporting 100 gram of heroin and 10 gram of opium from Laos to Vietnam.

An confessed he was hired by a third unidentified party to purchase heroin in Kham Nang Hamlet in Viengxay district, Houaphanh province in Laos, to sell in Vietnam.

An is residing in Thach Quang village, Thach Thanh district, Thanh Hoa province.

Earlier, on May 2, Thanh Hoa border guards arrested Nguyen Van Niem, 34, trafficking 100 grams of heroin, two tablets of ecstasy among other contraband.

Niem is currently residing in Thach Tan commune, Thach Thanh district.

Investigation into the two cases is underway.

Police seize plant growth stimulants

Police and market watch team of Ha Noi on Tuesday discovered and seized 230,000 tubes of growth stimulants from the farm produce of a farmer's store in Hoai Duc District.

The plant growth stimulants were found to have originated from China and were banned from being used in the production of food.

The whole consignment was sealed off and will be destroyed following current regulations.

Whirlwind sweeps through Lam Dong

Heavy rain coupled with whirlwind in Da Huoai District of the Central Highlands Province of Lam Dong on Tuesday unroofed 41 houses.

Local authorities mobilised forces to help the affected households overcome the aftermath and allocated temporary shelters for those people whose houses were completely unroofed.

Vietnam responds to World Asthma Day

The Ministry of Health hosted a meeting themed “You Can Control Your Asthma” at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi on May 8 in response to World Asthma Day.

The event aimed to help improve asthma awareness and care for patients suffering from the debilitating disease in Vietnam.

Addressing the gathering, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien stressed bronchial asthma is a serious illness, and the health sector has made ​​great efforts to improve the quality of treatment, control and prevention of the disease.

He proposed that Bach Mai Hospital closely coordinate with relevant sectors to implement a project on bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) across the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WTO), there are about 300 million asthma sufferers worldwide. Latest statistics show Vietnam has nearly 4 million people contracting the disease, or 3.9% of the population.

UN Vesak Day opens in Ninh Binh

More than 3,000 domestic and foreign delegates attended the opening ceremony of the 2014 United Nations Day of Vesak at Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh province on May 8.

Themed "Buddhist Perspective towards Achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals", the event has attracted thousands of Buddhist dignitaries, monks and nuns from nearly 100 countries and territories around the globe.

In his address, Most Venerable Thich Duc Nghiep conveyed the message by the Supreme Patriarch of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha to the meeting, saying the event creates a good chance for monastic members and lay-followers to share intellectual and spiritual experiences among distinguished scholars and practitioners from all over the world.

The Supreme Patriarch invites delegates to participate in a number of activities of the celebrations such as chanting and prayer for world peace, candle-lit procession, Buddhist cultural performances, Buddhist art exhibition and ecological tour to see cultural heritage of Buddhism in Vietnam.

Speaking at the event, Vietnam National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung noted since Buddhism entered Vietnam nearly 2,000 years ago, it has stood shoulder to shoulder with the nation, striving for national independence, freedom, and happiness for all.

In Vietnam, freedom of religion and belief is fully enshrined in the Constitution and key laws, he said.

Hung affirmed that during national construction and defence, the Party and State of Vietnam want to expand friendship and cooperation with other countries and international communities on the basis of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, and interests of all countries, looking towards sustainable development.

“Vietnam respects the noble values of religions, including Buddhism, built thousands of years ago, to promote human morality and dignity……. It will work closer together with other countries to build a better world of peace, friendship and cooperation, and look to sustainable development,” he said.

Five seminars on Buddhist contributions to fulfilling UN millennium development goals (MDGs) will be held during the event due to end on May 11.

This is the second time Vietnam has hosted the UN Vesak Day. The first celebration was held in Hanoi in 2008 with the participation of 600 Buddhist delegations from around the world.

People's Committee fines firm for environment pollution

The Foodstuff and Investment Company Ltd (Fococev), a tapioca starch producer in the central Ninh Thuan Province, has been fined VND1 billion, or US$47,600, for violating environmental regulations.

The provincial People's Committee imposed the fine yesterday. The company was also found guilty of violating the law in 2012 and 2013.

It was found that the firm was not following the approved Environmental Impacts Assessment Report and was discharging improperly treated waste water into the environment.

Committee to target growing alcohol problem

A national steering committee on the prevention and control of harmful alcohol consumption is set to be formed as part of the government’s efforts to minimize alcohol abuse in the country.

The establishment of the committee is part of a national policy to control drinking up until 2020, which was reviewed during a meeting in Hanoi on May 7.

Issued by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on February 12, the policy aims to prevent and minimize the harms of alcoholic drinks, especially beer and wine, on public health, social order and safety.

The policy looks to reduce and even eliminate the circulation of poor quality alcoholic drinks in the market, reducing the rise of annual alcohol consumption among people above the age of 15 to 10% in the 2013-2016 period, and down to 6.5% in the 2017-2020 period.

By 2016, 30% of alcohol addicts will have been medically diagnosed, with 25% of the total receiving consultations and treatment. The respective figures by 2020 are expected to be 50% and 40%, it said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the harmful use of alcohol is a global problem which affects both individual and social development. It results in 2.5 million deaths each year, or more than 6,000 every day.

More than 50% of the fatalities are associated with infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections, as alcohol consumption weakens the immune system and has a negative effect on patients’ adherence to antiretroviral treatment.

In Vietnam, as many as 70% of men drinks alcohol and one out of four men drinks beer and wine in a harmful way, equivalent to six glasses of beer each day.

Participants at the event, jointly held by the Ministry of Health and WHO, also underscored the importance of strengthening communications for the policy, as well as the building of a legal framework related to the work.

It is also crucial to comprehensively supply information and data related the production, trade and use of alcoholic drinks, while strengthening the inspection and assessment of the implementation of the policy, they said.

Foreign NGOs fund nearly VND75 billion to Dong Thap

Foreign non-governmental organizations have donated nearly VND75 billion to Dong Thap province over the past three years to implement a number of projects on education, health, poverty alleviation and charitable activities.

The projects which have brought practical results include a VND12 billion project to support children and families affected by natural disasters in the Mekong Delta, a Children-Action-funded project to provide heart surgery for children, a Heifer-funded project to improve famers’ lives and an IOM-funded project to promote gender equality and women empowerment.

Disaster Risk Reduction project, funded by Prudence Foundation Asia, has benefited students and teachers at 15 primary schools in 2 border districts of Hong Ngu and Tan Hong with total funding of over VND1.3 billion. The project provided nine swimming pools, dozens of speaker tutors, life jackets and a wealth of information on climate change.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) granted VND3.1 billion to build houses for 74 poor households in Tan Binh and Tan My communes affected by floods in 2011.

In 2012, European Commission - Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO) and Save the Children provided more than VND3.5 billion to support over 4.800 poor households in flood-prone areas.

In the future, the Dong Thap provincial Union of Friendship Organisations will mobilize additional foreign funding in the fields of disaster prevention, and support for disabled and poor children.

Dien Bien Phu victory films shown in Germany

A series of films on the Dien Bien Phu Victory and legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap was screened at the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany on May 6.

At the event, Ambassador Nguyen Thi Hoang Anh noted the films reflect the hard but glorious struggle of the Vietnamese people against foreign invaders and the courage and creativity of Vietnamese soldiers during the Dien Bien Phu campaign.

She underscored that Vietnam is passionate about the virtues of peace, freedom and justice. The country always wholeheartedly attempts to resolve disputes by peaceful measures in accordance with the United Nation Charter and international law.

However, if the country is invaded and its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity are violated, the nation and the people will defend themselves and resolutely protect their inherent legitimate rights and interests, she said.

On the occasion, two large German newspapers including Junge Welt (Young World) and Deutsche Welle (German Wave) published articles highlighting the great victory 60 years ago.

Under the title “Valmy Battle in Vietnam”, Junge Welt portrayed Dien Bien Phu victory as a milestone in the history of the Vietnamese military under the leadership of General Giap in the struggle against French colonialists.

More money needed to help ethnic people in Ca Mau

The southernmost province of Ca Mau needs more than 50 billion VND (about 2.4 million USD) to carry out programmes supporting ethnic minority people from now until 2015.

Ca Mau is home to 13 ethnic minority groups with nearly 12,000 households, 2,800 of which are living in poverty.

From 2009 to 2012, the province spent 23 billion VND (1.1 million USD) providing residential and production land for the target group, as well as creating jobs for 4,000 impoverished households.

Efforts have also been made to better their access to healthcare services and vocational training programmes, and build infrastructure facilities.

However, the effectiveness of such assistance is not sustainable due to an inappropriate allocation of finance for the programmes.

In 2013, only 299 households in Ca Mau escaped from poverty.

Vietnam, Russia’s great victories celebrated

A function was held in Hanoi on May 7 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Vietnam’s Dien Bien Phu Victory (May 7) and the 69 th anniversary of the former Soviet Union 's victory in the Great Patriotic War (May 9).

Addressing the function, Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations’ Hanoi chapter Vu Thi Hai highlighted the significance of the two triumphs, stating that the former Soviet Union’s victory on May 9, 1945 against fascism helped make way for Vietnam’ August Revolution in the same year, ringing in a new phase of the nation’s history.

Director of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Hanoi Lavrenev A. Yu said highlighted that Vietnam and Russia stood by side by side throughout their struggles for victory.

The function was rounded off with an art performance hailing the two victories and the two countries’ friendship and solidarity.

Can Tho to invest 60 million VND in building schools

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho will invest 60 billion VND (2.82 million USD) to build more kindergartens and primary schools by the end of this year to ease the overload situation in some localities, a municipal leader has said.

Le Hung Dung, Chairman of Can Tho People’s Committee said at a meeting on May 7 that most of the new facilities will be built in Ninh Kieu and Binh Thuy districts that have faced a shortage in schools.

Currently, Ninh Kieu has only six kindergartens and 22 primary schools, while Binh Thuy has three and 14, respectively, the city’s Department of Education and Training reported.

The building of schools is part of a project on upgrading urban infrastructure for Can Tho City which uses capital sourced by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).

Under the project, construction is underway on three primary schools which will be ready to welcome students by August.

Also thanks to the project, roads in 245 city alleys have been upgraded, while clean water has been supply to nearly 43,000 households. Several canals in the city are being cleaned.

The Can Tho project is a component of a scheme to develop the Mekong Delta region in the 2012-2017 period at a cost of 292 million USD.

Vietnamese in Ukraine celebrate Dien Bien Phu victory

The Vietnamese community in Odessa city, Ukraine held a meeting on May 6 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu victory.

Addressing the ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to Ukraine Nguyen Minh Tri affirmed that the Dien Bien Phu victory is an immortal epic of the Vietnamese nation, putting an end to the French colonial rule in the country.

It was a great triumph of not only Vietnamese people but also all oppressed nations in the world, he said.

Sixty years have passed but the stature, significance and lessons of the Dien Bien Phu victory still keep their value, he added.

The ambassador also highlighted the traditional friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Ukraine , which have been fostered by generations of the two countries’ leaders and people.

At the event, representatives of the Vietnamese community and Ukrainian war veterans praised the Dien Bien Phu victory and expressed gratitude to heroic martyrs who laid down their lives for peace and national independence.

Ho Chi Minh City hosts technology exhibitions

A series of exhibitions on technology kicked off in Ho Chi Minh City on May 8, with the participation of businesses from over 30 countries and territories across the world.

Hosted by the Republic of Korea’s EXPORUM Inc, the event offers domestic and foreign firms a good opportunity to promote products and make new partners.

The event is featuring products and equipment including videos cameras, audiovisual and televisual devices and LED illuminative technology.

The displayed products at the event come from many prestigious domestic and global suppliers, such as Canon, Sangsung, HTC, Oppo, Panasonic, Dien Quang and Rang Dong.

During the event, which will run until May 10, workshops are also being held to forge links between businesses.-

Hanoi conference seeks to prevent asthma

Ways to deter the development of asthma and treat the condition effectively were the focus of a conference held in Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi on May 8.

Hosted by the Ministry of Health, the event, themed “You can control your asthma”, marked World Asthma Day.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien stressed that bronchial asthma is a serious illness, and the health sector has made ​​ great efforts to improve the quality of treatment, control and prevention of the condition.

He proposed that Bach Mai Hospital closely work with relevant sectors to swiftly implement a project on bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) across the country in order to widely spread knowledge about the disease in the community.

According to the World Health Organisation (WTO), there are about 300 million asthma sufferers worldwide. The latest statistics show that nearly 4 million Vietnamese people, or 3.9 percent of the country’s population, have suffered it.-

HCM City eyes local solution to water woes

Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) is negotiating a US$37 million water-saving deal with two Vietnamese companies in HCM City.

The project model is unprecedented because, to date, all city projects to reduce water losses have involved foreign investors.

According to the proposal, the companies would spend the money reducing the rate of water losses through leakage in HCM City pipelines in 10 districts during the next 15 years.

The private companies are the HCM City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII) and the HCM City Finance and Investment Company (HFIC).

It promises to save 70,000 cubic metres of water a day for the first five years, and maintain the rate for another 10 years.

Le Quoc Binh, director of CII, said the southern city used 1.75 million of cubic metres of water every day, of which 35 per cent, equivalent to 700,000 cubic meters, was lost, mostly through leaking old pipelines. About 10 per cent of the city's water pipelines are more than 30 years-old and are degraded.

The project would consist of replacing water metering and old and degraded pipelines with modern and hi-tech equipment. When the project is completed, all the infrastructure will be transferred to Sawaco.

For every cubic metre of water saved in the first year, Sawaco will have to pay VND4,000 ($20 cents) to the joint-venture. The price will increase every year in line with the 10 per cent increase in the cost of living, Binh said.

At present, the price for each cubic metre of water sold by Sawaco to consumers is VND9,000 ($42 cents).

"The amount that Sawaco has to pay for the water re-collected is, thus, quite reasonable," Binh said.

Tran Dinh Phu, director of Sawaco, said he highly welcome the project because Sawaco itself is not financially capable of doing the work.

Sawaco is spending $154 million on expanding the water supply network in HCM City. A major part of the project is building an 11km pipeline from Thu Duc District to Dien Bien Phu Street. The installation is expected to begin by the end of this year.

Binh said the current price of water in HCM City took into account the rate of water loss. If the proposed project could save water, prices could become more stable.