Free treatment for poor heart disease patients

The southern Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province’s Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs will provide 40 poor children suffering from heart disease with surgery each year.

Le Thanh Dung, Deputy Chairman of the department, said that the province will pay the entire cost of the procedure for those who cannot afford it.

The province will continue to seek funding from other sources to finance the programme. The Department of Health in southern B Ria – Vung Tu Province is conducting two cardiac surgery programmes for poor patients. Since early 2012, 90 patients have undergone surgery.

Improving living standards for the blind

A conference was held in Hanoi on March 7 to review the implementation of a five-year movement in support of blind people from 2007 to 2012.

Under the movement, various activities were launched to help the blind improve their living conditions, enjoy equality and better integrate into the community.

More than 1,000 houses were built and more than 400 were repaired for the blind at an estimated cost of VND30 billion.

Thanks to vocational training, many blind people are now able to produce handicrafts, grow crops and breed livestock to develop the household economy.

In addition, blind people were provided with free medical insurance cards, and granted tax reduction or exemption in various fields. Their children receive free education.

Every year, the blind association cooperates with charity organizations to provide free surgery to poor blind patients

Hotels, transport companies fined for overcharging

Thirteen hotels and transport enterprises in central Khanh Hoa Province were fined VND80 million (over US$3,800) for overcharging customers before, during and after the Tet holiday.

The violations were discovered by a group chaired by the provincial Department of Finance that conducted surprise inspections in 26 hotels and six transport enterprises.

The hotels charged their customers more than listed prices, according to the inspectors. They were fined over VND50 million ($2,400) and had to return VND9 million (over $430) to customers.

The transport companies, which did the same, were fined VND30 million (over $1,400) and asked to return over VND65 million ($3,100) to customers.

Companies fined for spam messages

The Ministry of Information and Communication Inspectorate decided to punish three companies that sent spam messages, cheating mobile subscribers.

Accordingly, Ha Thanh Joint Stock Company, Ha Thanh Technology Development, Lac Hong Communication and E-WAY joint stock companies will have to pay fines of VND135 million (US$.6,000), VND80 million ($3,800) and VND47.55 million ($2,300) respectively.

Thua Thien-Hue’s residents better prepared for disasters

About 2,200 people, including 600 children, from 20 communes in central Thua Thien-Hue province have received training in how to cope with natural disasters under a US-funded project.

This is part of the results of the project “Increasing Emergency Preparedness and Resilience of Vulnerable Coastal Communities in Central Vietnam”, which was implemented by Save the Children in Vietnam (SCiV) with fundings from the USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA).

Speaking at a March 6 reviewing seminar, Tran Van Nhan, Vice Chairman of Thua Thien-Hue Red Cross Society cum director of the project’s steering committee, said that the committee and SCiV have cooperated closely to share experiences and facilitate the project.

Local authorities and residents have also actively joined in training programmes and rescue rehearsals, improving their capacity in emergency response and rescue, he said.

The project has provided target localities with necessary equipment, built small scale constructions and helped set up plans on preventing and reducing the consequences of natural disasters.

Twenty communes of Quang Dien, Phu Loc and Phu Vang districts benefited from the project, which was implemented from April, 2012, to March this year.

Low-cost flood shelters prove effective: official

Flood shelters constructed for residents in central provinces have proven effective, so there is no need to relocate poor people living in flood-prone areas, deputy minister of construction Nguyen Tran Nam said.

Under a project initiated by the Prime Minister last year, such shelters would be built for 700 poor households in 14 communes in Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Phu Yen.

Construction of each shelter costs an estimated VND30 million (US$1,400), including VND10 million from the State budget and VND10 million from bank loans with an interest rate of 3 per cent per year. The rest of the sum comes from local residents.

Nam said that while the capital was small, it would serve as bait to attract more resources and get local people to participate in building shelters.

Many households got loans to build bigger and more beautiful shelters, he said.

In a two-day field trip to central Ha Tinh and Nghe An provinces, a Ministry of Construction delegation found that the shelter project had made impressive progress.

Ha Tinh was the first province to complete the programme as scheduled, with completed flood shelters for 100 households in three flood-prone communes.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Dinh Son said the project was vital for local people, so the province determined to complete it before last year’s flood season.

Dang Thi Nga, a resident of Ha Tinh province’s Son Thinh commune, said she now felt secure again and could go about her daily life.

“Thanks to the support from other people, many people like us can now build our own houses,” she said.

Nam said it was important that local people carry out the project themselves with guidelines and support from the State. This model could be replicated in future poverty reduction programmes if successful.

Around 60,000 poor households and 30,000 near-poor households are living in flood-prone areas in 14 central coastal provinces from Thanh Hoa to Binh Thuan, according to a ministry survey.

Holland helps Vietnam manage climate change

The Dutch Red Cross Office in Vietnam and the disaster management board of Vietnam Red Cross (VRC) opened a training course on ‘Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment’ (VCA) in the central city of Hue on March 6.

The course has drawn 84 Red Cross workers from 32 provinces and cities nationwide, as well as from the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

On behalf of the Dutch Red Cross, Paul Vanderlaan, said the program is part of a year-long project called Disaster Preparedness ECHO 8 (DIPECHO 8) aimed at enhancing the calamity management skills of VRC officers.

Earlier, 175 local Red cross workers were trained in similar courses under DIPECHO 6 and 7.

Self-modified three-wheel vehicles run ignoring ban

Self-modified three-wheeled vehicles continue to be spotted on the streets of HCM City, despite a ban on them coming into force on Sunday.

The decision to prohibit the vehicles’ use on certain streets throughout the day was signed by vice chairman of the city People’s Committee Nguyen Huu Tin on February 19 in a bid to curb traffic congestion in the inner city.

Ngo Van Nam, 30, a driver of the vehicles, told Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper that he knew about the ban and had purposefully ignored it.

“I have no choice because I still have to earn a living,” he said.

Nam added that he did not transport bulky goods and drove slowly to avoid catching the attention of police.

Trinh Quoc Thanh, 49, from the city’s Thu Duc District said that he earned just VND200,000 (US$9.5) by transporting goods with his self-modified three-wheeled vehicle.

“I had to borrow most of the VND80 million ($3,800) needed to buy it shortly before the ban came into effect,” he said.

Instead of stopping using his vehicle for the transport of goods, Thanh has decided to continue and risk being punished by traffic police as he needs to earn a living.

In the first few days of the ban, drivers breaking the new law will be given a gentle reminder. However, in a few weeks time they will deal more strictly with violations, an officer from the city’s Police Department confirmed.

The committee have ruled that anyone caught operating one of the vehicles outside of the permitted hours will be fined VND500,000.

Currently the vehicles are banned between 5am and 1pm and 4pm and 10pm in streets including Cach Mang Thang Tam, Le Thanh Ton, Nguyen Huu Canh, Ton Duc Thang and Tran Hung Dao.

Vietnam interested in Japanese satellite technology

The Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) hosted a March 4 seminar on monitoring satellite networks in Tokyo, attended by Vietnamese and international experts.

Participants at the event shared their expertise in satellite technologies, with the aim of minimising damage caused by natural disasters and maximising the communication benefits of this modern technology.

The seminar drew the full attention of delegates, especially those coming from Southeast Asian nations that have prioritised the development of satellite technology to boost economic growth.

The focus of discussions was on policies regarding the use of satellite earth-monitoring technology and worked out measures to boost cooperation in this field.

The Japanese government appreciates the benefits of space technology where it is used in a peaceful manner to improve people’s living conditions.

Pasco, a representative of Japan’s space technology industry, introduced an Integrated Mobile Ground Station which consists of a large antenna mounted on vehicles and can provide early warnings on natural calamities.

Director of Vietnam’s National Satellite Centre Phan Anh Tuan was impressed with the ground station technology, saying it would work well in the Vietnamese terrain if appropriate off-road vehicles are employed.

Cayaman Esperanze, a delegate from the Philippines, said that her country is considering the application of the ground stations to cope with frequent national disasters, such as floods, storms and earthquakes.

Media role in poverty reduction underlined

Economic experts and journalists have called for closer bonds among the mass media, policy makers, economic managers and entrepreneurs to foster the national cause of poverty reduction.
They made the call at a multi-party forum on the issue held by the Vietnam Journalists’ Association (VJA) in Hanoi on March 6 with the participation of representatives of relevant ministries, agencies and enterprises.

The even is part of activities to review 10- year implementation of the national strategy on poverty reduction and alleviation which is one of the Vietnamese government’s commitments relating to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Ngo Truong Thi, Deputy Director of the Social Protection Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) said the government has given priority to poverty reduction and social security in parallel with economic development.

However, the results came out to be unsustainable, Thi said, adding that the numbers of households living just above the poverty standard or relapsing into poverty remain high.

VJA chairman Thuan Huu, who is also a member of the Party Central Committee and Editor-in-Chief of Nhan Dan newspaper, stressed that poverty reduction is a focus of attention of the mass media.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, Editor-in-Chief of Lao dong and Xa hoi (Labour and Society) newspaper, suggested media houses should figure out how to bring the issue to readers in an appealing and multidimensional way.

According to the newly-set poverty line, by the end of 2012, the poverty rate nationwide hovered at about 10 percent.

Transport development strategy

The Government will accord high priority in the coming years for developing transport infrastructure facilities, including upgrading and modernising the North-South rail route.

According to the National Transport Development Strategy until 2020 with a vision towards 2030 that was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently, the National Highway 1 will be upgraded and expanded to become four-lane road.

Several feasibility studies will be carried out for the construction a high-speed railway.

Railroads will be built to connect provinces in the Central Highlands and to link the region with seaports, serving the exploitation and production of aluminium.

In big cities like Ha Noi and HCM City, public transportation will be strengthened with the establishment of more bus routes, and the profusion of private vehicles like motorbikes and cars will be controlled.

The nation will spend nearly VND32 trillion (US$1.5 billion) every year on a number of key transport infrastructure construction projects.

Nearly 150 workers hospitalised for food poisoning

As many as 148 employees of a HCM City-based garment company have been hospitalised shortly after a dinner at their work place.

The incident occurred at Terratex Vietnam Limited Co. in the Tan Thoi Hiep industrial park in District 12, HCM City, on March 6.

After showing symptoms of food poisoning, such as stomachache and vomiting, the victims were sent to hospital the next morning.

Doctor Nguyen Xuan Hieu, who received the workers, said that some victims were discharged from hospital, but two others are currently in critical condition.

The victims also included 20 pregnant women who suffered from headache and bellyache.

Employees said they had eaten boiled eggs, toasted chicken, pork and sprouts.

The cause of the suspected food poisoning is under investigation.

HCM City's rural communes flourishing

Six outlying communes in HCM City that were chosen for a pilot new rural area project have achieved almost all its criteria, according to authorities.

The Government’s National New Rural-Area Programme has 19 development criteria for rural areas to get the status of “new.”

Among them are the development of transportation and irrigation facilities and housing, poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and social and political stability.

The six communes are Tan Thong Hoi and Thai My in Cu Chi District, Xuan Thoi Thuong in Hoc Mon District, Tan Nhut in Binh Chanh District, Nhon Duc in Nha Be District, and Ly Nhon in Can Gio District.

Tan Thong Hoi and Thai My have scored all 19, while the others are going to follow suit this year, according to the committee.

Tan Thong Hoi was among the first 11 in the country to be chosen for the programme in 2009.
In 2010, HCM City made assessment, picking the other five after Tan Thong Hoi as they accomplishing positive results under the programme.

Speaking at a seminar to review the programme on Tuesday, Le Thanh Liem, director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said HCM City has so far poured VND6.9 trillion (US$328 million) into the endeavour.

More than 900 irrigation, road, electricity, schools, healthcare, and other infrastructure works have been built under the programme.

The six do not have a single household now under the Government’s poverty line whose threshold is VND4.8 million per year per person.

The city has fixed the poverty line at VND12 million.

Liem, who is also deputy head of the city steering committee for the programme, said the development of infrastructure has helped attract investment, improving conditions for trade and production, shifting workers from agricultural production to other sectors, and expanding incomes.

Truong Trung Cuong, who lives in Hamlet 1 in Tan Nhut, said commune authorities have instructed farmers to switch from farming crops and animal breeding of low value to those of higher value, improving incomes.

He himself chose to farm ornamental fish. His 3-hectare farm now sells around 3,000 fish every day for revenues of VND700-800 million ($33,300-38,100) a year.

He has encouraged some neighbours to switch to ornamental fish with guarantees to buy them.


The city is expanding the National New Rural-Area Programme to its remaining 50 rural communes, and hopes they would achieve all the criteria by 2015.

Nguyen Van Dua, standing deputy secretary of the city Party Committee, said the first six communes started slowly before rapidly achieving their targets.

The new ones could benefit by learning from their experience, he added.