VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 5 (updated hourly)

PM demands restricting development of small-scale hydropower projects

VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 5 (updated hourly)
The 1,200-MW Lai Chau hydropower plant – PHOTO: COURTESY OF EVN

Admitting that small-scale hydropower projects are not the main cause of landslides and floods, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has demanded that Vietnam restrict the development of such projects, especially in the Central Highlands, to protect the environment.

Speaking at a meeting on the country’s socioeconomic situation early this week, Phuc said that the main cause of the recent serious landslides in the central region were heavy rainfall and the geological structure and not hydropower projects.

“The geological structure of central provinces comprises steep mountains and clay soil, which can be easily damaged by a heavy downpour. There is no hydropower project in Tra Leng Commune, Quang Nam Province, which was hit by landslides late last month. Recent landslides in Huong Hoa District, Quang Tri Province, which killed 22 people, occurred far away from residential areas.”

Phuc said Vietnam has ample forest cover and the Government always pays special attention to forest areas. All important projects that affect the forests must be presented to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.

The Government today presented the Than River reservoir project in Ninh Thuan Province and the Ban Mong reservoir project in Nghe An Province to the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly will only approve these projects if the Government can prove that the projects affect only a small forest area and offer significant benefits to the locals and agricultural development,” Phuc said.

The prime minister also urged the development of renewable energies, which will contribute to the sustainable development of the country.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam operated 385 hydropower projects with their installed capacity totaling 18,564 MW as of late 2018, including 80 large and medium projects.

In 2017, hydropower projects contributed some 40% of the country’s total power production.

60 Vietnamese people sign up for coronavirus vaccine trials

Sixty Vietnamese people have signed up for coronavirus vaccine trials in the first phase, said Nguyen Ngo Quang, Deputy Director of the Department of Science, Technology and Training under the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Quang yesterday revealed his Department has worked with the Military Medical Academy on the implementation of first phase of coronavirus vaccine trials scheduled in November.

Ministry-approved vaccine manufactured by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology will be trialed on 60 people in the first phase.

According to Nanogen, if all procedures are completed and approved, it can make 20 millions of vaccine dozes monthly based on existing technology.

Also yesterday, the Steering Board for Covid-19 Prevention and Control announced additional 10 fresh cases of Covid-19 , who are Russian and Angolan. They were sent to quarantine medical centers at arrivals.
Vietnam has experienced 63 days without recording cases of Covid-19 in the community.

Six cold spells to chill Vietnam in November

The weather in northern localities is forecast to become chillier in November, with four to six cold spells expected to sweep over the region in the month, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

Two to three tropical cyclones are forecast to operate in the East Sea this month.

The cold snaps, together with tropical turbulences in the East Sea, may cause prolonged heavy rain to the central region, especially provinces from Ha Tinh to Quang Ngai.

The temperature in the north is predicted to rise 0.5 degree Celsius compared to the same period of previous years, the centre said.

Due to impacts of Goni, the 10th storm to hit the East Sea, the central localities will be battered by torrential downpours, with total rainfall expected to increase 15-25 percent as compared to the same time in previous years.

Meanwhile, the precipitation in the north and south is 20-35 percent lower than previous years./.

Phu Tho bears rescued

VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 5 (updated hourly)

Experts of Animals Asia provided medical checks-up for the two bears before taking them to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.

A bear which was illegally held in captivity for up to 18 years and its four-year old cub in the northern province of Phu Tho have been rescued.

On Tuesday, Animals Asia rescued the two Asian black bears from a farm in Phu Tho’s Thanh Ba District. The mother bear weighs around 120 kilos while its cub is some 90 kilos. On the same day, they were sent to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Vinh Phuc Province.  

Animals Asia named the bears Storm and Torrent in order to commemorate the victims of recent storms and floods in the central region of Vietnam.

Phi Manh Tan, owner of the bear farm, said the two bears are among five raised in his farm. The 20-year-old mother bear has been kept in his farm for 18 years. Its child is four years old and was born with the disabled left leg.

According to Tan, he will come to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre to visit the two bears in the coming time and if they are in good health, his family will hand over the remaining three to Animals Asia.

Experts of Animals Asia provided medical checks-up for the two bears before taking them to the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre. However, the animals will have to experience a 45-day quarantine to ensure safety before being officially taken care of at the centre.

Dr. Tuan Bendixsen, director of the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, said that so far this year, the centre has received 11 bears, raising the total number of rescued bears to 222.

Currently, around 500 bears are still being illegally kept in Vietnam for bile extraction.

Animals Asia has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to end bear bile farming by 2022.

Flight to HCMC delayed after passenger found burning tissue paper

A Vietnam Airlines flight which was set to leave Hanoi for HCMC was delayed for an hour this morning, November 2, after a passenger was found burning tissue paper on board.

Flight VN243 operated on a Boeing 787-9 aircraft was scheduled to leave Noi Bai airport in Hanoi at 8 a.m. in the day. However, as the plane taxied from the apron to the runway for takeoff, a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant discovered a male passenger in Seat 20A using a lighter to burn tissue paper.

On being discovered, the man quickly put out the flame. No damages were caused to the flight.

The flight crew immediately decided to return to the apron, reported the incident and handed over the passenger to airport security officials.

The flight then took off at 9 a.m. in the day.

The top priority of Vietnam Airlines is to ensure passenger and flight safety. The national flag carrier requested passengers to fully comply with air travel regulations. The carrier hopes to garner passenger sympathy for the unexpectedly rescheduled flight caused by the incident, said a Vietnam Airlines representative.

Appraisal council established for Hanoi’s metro No.5 project

The line will facilitate commuting from Hanoi's suburbs to downtown, help reduce urban traffic density, improve transport structure and people's travel conditions.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has decided to establish a State council to assess the pre-feasibility study report of Hanoi’s urban railway line No.5 that will link Van Cao, Ngoc Khanh, Lang streets and Hoa Lac highway.

Accordingly, the council will be headed by the minister of Planning and Investment, with a deputy minister of Planning and Investment being the vice chairman.

The council’s chairman will report to the Prime Minister on hiring a foreign consultant or a joint venture of domestic and foreign consultants to verify Hanoi’s urban railway line No.5 in accordance with regulations.

According to the Hanoi People's Committee, if the investment policy is approved, work on Hanoi’s urban railway line No.5 will start in 2022 and the line is expected to become operational in 2026.

Investment on the metro line No.5 is estimated to amount to US$2.758 billion. The total length of the route is 38.43 km (6.5 km underground, 2km overhead and 29.93 km on the ground).

Its alignment will parallel Thang Long avenue, running on the median strip of the road.

When being put into service, line No.5 will join a network with line No.2 (which is under technical design), line No.3 (which is under construction), metro lines No.4 and 6 (which are being studied), and metro lines No.7 and 8 (which are under planning).

The line will facilitate commuting from Hanoi's suburbs to downtown, help reduce urban traffic density, improve transport structure and people's travel conditions.

The Hanoi city government is also considering building a number of monorail lines to better exploit the entire urban railway system in the capital city, create a cohesion of the capital city's urban railway network.

According to the government’s report, Hanoi plans to build eight urban railway lines in the metropolitan area with a combined length of 305 km, including three monorail segments, in its development plan for 2030 with a vision towards 2050.

Work on Hanoi’s first metro line, the Cat Linh - Ha Dong urban railway line, commenced in October 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. But several hurdles, including loan disbursement issues with China that were only resolved in December 2017, stalled it for years. It is scheduled to start operation early next year, according to Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The. 

Science film festival taking place in schools

Students aged from 5 to 17 in 12 cities and provinces have the chance to watch short science films and experience science experiments at weekends at the science film festival, which has been taking place in schools.

The festival organizer in coordination with the General Science Library of Ho Chi Minh City also holds mobile libraries in schools. This year, with the theme of “ Sustainable development goals” the festival received 161 films of nations including The Show with the Mouse: The Super Storage Battery , Earth to Future – How Will We Live in the Future?, Born to be Wild: Hungry Planet; of which, 16 are selected to show in Vietnam for those aged from 5 to over 17.

Through an international selection of films on science, the festival organizer intended to prove that science is an interesting theme working to improve a person’s awareness of ecology. This year, the festival focused on biological diversity, said Wifried Eckstein, president of Hanoi-based Goethe-Institute.

Sixteen science films will travel with mobile libraries of the General Science Library to cities and provinces across the country. According to Hoang Duong, coordinator of the festival in Vietnam, this year, the festival will arrive in 12 cities and provinces across the country including the capital city of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Mobile libraries will drop by schools and then reading culture festivals, parks, culture houses and public places.

In addition to watching the films in the festival, students can learn more about scientific information through films to brush up their knowledge. High schoolers can come to Goethe-Institute to experience science with hands and eyes, doing experiments on the spot. The experiments are connected to the movies watched. By this multi access approach, curiosity, cleverness and knowledge will be fostered Goethe Institute and local and international educational organizations also planned to design curriculum of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and provide training to librarians who will teach STEM education later.

The tenth science film festival will last to December 20, 2020.

Hanoi’s smart city project needs careful planning: Experts

Hanoi will focus on researching, applying, and developing sustainable smart urban planning.

The construction of smart cities must be conducted in a structured manner in accordance with the planning, Kinh te & Do thi quoted Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tuong Van as saying.

“The successful experience of many countries shows that building tools to manage urban development on the basis of planning and integrating these contents into the urbanization strategy should be seen as a focal issue,” Mr. Van said.

Smart urban development management needs to follow a roadmap to gradually optimize urban development management, improve life quality of urban residents, and create opportunities for human development, the deputy minister emphasized.

According to Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Planning and Architecture Nguyen Trong Ky Anh, over the past time, huge works on urban planning appraisal have been fulfilled, but still failed to meet the progress.

Mr. Ky Anh said that the above-mentioned limitation is due to insufficient application of information technology which has only helped the city monitor the quantity, status and administrative procedures of the planning projects.

Given these shortcomings, more than ever, accelerating the development of smart cities and the application of new technologies in Industrial Revolution 4.0 to urban planning and management is imperative for Hanoi today.

For setting the strategic orientations and planning vision to connect new urban areas with metropolitan areas in the context of Industry 4.0, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Nguyen Doan Toan said that the city has identified five groups of issues to be dealt with. Among them, the top priority is to promote the application of smart technology in urban development planning and management.

Accordingly, the city will develop smart applications to support decision making in the appraisal and release of urban planning.

Besides, the city will develop a system to provide planning information and receive suggestions and feedback from the community to monitor the implementation of urban planning.

The vice chairman stressed that Hanoi will focus on researching, applying, and developing sustainable smart urban planning; attracting investment resources to build, manage and develop smart urban infrastructure.

Moreover, the city will implement pilot programs and projects for sustainable smart urban development and promoting e-Government.

Hanoi also promotes the training and retraining to improve the capacity and professional level of people in the leadership positions to meet the demand of developing and operating smart cities in each phase.

Hanoi’s first metro line is not allowed to miss another deadline

Hanoi’s first metro line is being delayed eight times and its budget has been overrun several times, which has caused public frustration.

National Assembly delegate Nguyen Phi Thuong from Hanoi has asked the Vietnamese government to remove obstacles to the Cat Linh - Ha Dong urban railway, the first of its kind in Hanoi, so that it can become operational by the end of this year, avoiding missing the deadline again.

Mr. Thuong made the recommendation at a National Assembly sitting on November 3.

Mr. Thuong said that urban railway construction is considered a key lifesaver for Hanoi's traffic problems as it is growing into a megacity. However, the construction progress of these lines still faces a lot of hurdles.

"The project is being delayed eight times and its budget has been overrun several times, which has caused frustration in public opinion," Mr. Thuong said.

He added that competent authorities should urgently draw experiences from this project so that the future ones would not face this issue again.

Mr. Thuong also proposed urban railway planning be linked with urban space and life, because, at present, Hanoi’s commuting plan is not designed towards the reliance on urban public transport, but roads are being filled with private vehicles.

Besides, the National Assembly and the government should have policies to invest in urban railways associated with urban restructuring such as developing the areas along the two banks of the Red river, Mr. Thuong noted.

"It is necessary to evaluate and learn from the experience of borrowing ODA for urban railway construction and be careful with the loan conditions. Loans for urban railway construction are only effective when they are disbursed for a whole line, not a section," Mr. Thuong stressed.

For his part, Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The admitted that the progress of urban railway traffic projects has been behind schedule.

In the near future, the Ministry of Transport will coordinate closely with big cities' administration so that new urban railway projects can avoid repeating such delays, Mr. The said.

Work on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line began in 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. But several hurdles, including loan disbursement issues with China that were only resolved in December 2017, have stalled it for years.

The metro eventually entered the testing phase in March with all 13 trains. The ministry wanted commercial operations to begin at the end of April, but this deadline was missed again.

Project costs have more than doubled from the original VND8.8 trillion (US$378 million) to VND18 trillion (US$774 million), according to state auditors.

When complete, the country’s first metro line will run 13 kilometers from Cat Linh station in downtown Dong Da sistrict to Yen Nghia station in southwest Ha Dong district.

Training course on air medical transportation organised

The Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations in collaboration with the Military Hospital 175 and the Air Defence - Air Force Service on November 2 launched a training course on air medical transportation for the level-2 field hospital No.3.

The field hospital is scheduled to leave for the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan later this year.

During the course, staff of the hospital will learn about the basic overview of air medical transportation system, principles of medical evacuation, transportation safety issues and experience by the UN Mission in South Sudan in the field.

Trainees will have a chance to learn how to deal with cases using helicopters guaranteed by the Air Division 370./.

Vietnam’s political system proves effective in COVID-19 fight: Sputnik

VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 5 (updated hourly)

Vietnam’s political system proved effective and efficient when the COVID-19 outbreak in the country became more complex, Russian news agency Sputnik wrote recently.

Sputnik highlighted the Vietnamese Government’s transparency in activities, saying it has helped boost the public’s confidence in local authorities in the fight against the coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) regards Vietnam as an outstanding example of fighting the pandemic, while international media also called the country a “star”.

What made Vietnam stand out was its swift and early response to the threat COVID-19 posed, conducting multiple-tier contact tracing, introducing centralised quarantine, and strictly adhering to preventive measures, the news agency said.

Another secret to its success was that the Government quickly adopted a national strategy to combat the pandemic and properly enforced it, it added.

Sputnik noted that Vietnam was the second country, after China, to impose social distancing measures. Military, militia, security forces, and volunteers were mobilised to confirm quarantine rules and preventive measures were being observed, while the nationwide public healthcare network remained on standby for any emergency.

The country also developed affordable COVID-19 test kits, ramped up production of face masks and disinfectant, and created a virus tracing app that helps determine if a person has come into contact with a COVID-19 patient and provides updates on the virus situation around the country.

The news outlet also highlighted how Vietnam creatively and effectively raised public awareness about the dangers posed by COVID-19 and promoted preventive measures via the media.

Though the country has suffered heavy losses from the suspension of tourism, international flights, foreign trade and services, its economy is forecast to grow 3 percent this year, according to the World Bank./.

Nearly 13,000 HIV carriers benefit from PrEP programme

Nearly 13,000 people living with HIV nationwide have been provided with Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) service over the last two years, helping to control HIV infections in the community.

The information was announced at a workshop jointly held by the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the USAID PATH Healthy Markets project in Ho Chi Minh City on November 3.

Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Director of the VAAC, said Vietnam has achieved remarkable achievements in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS when the rate of HIV carriers in the community has been controlled below 0.3 percent, and the number of new cases and deaths from AIDS has also gradually decreased every year.

However, he noted that the rate of those tested positive for HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) have rapidly increased in recent years, to over 10 percent at present from only about 2 percent in 2010.

Vietnam is one of the first countries in the world to apply the PrEP programme. It is providing the service for more than 10,000 customers in the country.

PrEP helps to reduce between 95-98 percent of the risk of infecting HIV in the community, Long said, adding that the community's response to PrEP has been very positive.

Vietnam is striving to have about 30 percent or 60,000 people in the MSM community using PrEP by 2025, and the rate is hoped to increase to 40 percent by 2030, Long said.

Lopa Basu, a senior technical advisor from the USAID, attributed the success of the programme to strong global campaigns and diversification of services, saying that the PrEP service has been providing in public, private and community clinics.

The USAID is committed to continue cooperation with Vietnam in realising its AIDS elimination goal by 2030, she said.

Since 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly recommended PrEP as an additional prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV.

The programme was launched for the first time in Vietnam in early 2017 and now it is implemented in 26 provinces and cities nationwide./.

Japan, Indonesia intensify defence cooperation

Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Indonesian counterpart Prabowo Subianto have agreed to conduct more discussions to speed up the transfer of defence equipment and boost defence technical cooperation.

In their phone talks on November 2, the two ministers exchanged views on measures to intensify collaboration in security and defence.

They agreed to foster bilateral cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including sharing knowledge and holding joint training.

Both sides reached a consensus in close coordination in holding a ministerial defence-diplomacy dialogue as soon as possible.

The Japanese minister affirmed that Japan opposes all unilateral acts that use force to change the status quo in the East Sea (internationally known as South China Sea) and East China Sea.

Both reaffirmed the importance of a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law./.

Storms, floods cause economic loss of over 730 million USD: Gov’t report

VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 5 (updated hourly)
Floods submerge many houses in central region

Since late September, 235 people have been reported dead and missing by consecutive storms and floods, which have also caused an estimated economic loss of about 17 trillion VND (733.4 million USD).

The figures were released in a Government report on disaster prevention and control in the central region reported to the National Assembly on November 2.


In the document, the Government defined six urgent tasks. Specifically, it will mobilise all forces and equipment to find missing victims, including those of landslides at Rao Trang 3 Hydro-power Plant construction site in Thua Thien-Hue, in Quang Nam’s Nam Tra My and Phuoc Son districts and fishermen of Binh Dinh’s two fishing vessels, while requesting safety for search and rescue forces.

The Government will focus on relief activities to help locals, especially those in far-flung areas, stabilise their life; supporting them in house repair and providing food and medicine for them; visiting and encouraging families of the victims.

The Ministries, sectors and localities will quickly restore damaged infrastructure facilities, especially the power supply system, transport, dykes, schools and hospitals, while concentrating on environment sanitation, especially water for daily activities, to prevent diseases from breaking out.

Attention will also be paid to developments of storm Goni, which is forecast to affect the central region in the coming days, and actively evacuate people out of dangerous areas.

For long-term missions, the Government will direct the specific assessment and building of different climate change scenarios to have appropriate response solutions.

It will improve the quality of disaster forecasts and warning, speed up the making of maps warning risks of landslides and flash floods, and add disaster prevention and response and consequence handling into development plans and strategies of each sector and locality.

The Government, ministries, sectors and localities will also prioritise allocating money in a mid-term public investment plan for 2021-2025 and annual central and local budget estimates for disaster prevention and control and search and rescue missions./.

Singapore spends over 10 mln USD on developing digital contact tracing tools

Singapore has spent 13.8 million SGD (10.2 million USD) in total on developing and acquiring the SafeEntry digital check-in system and TraceTogether app and tokens.

Included in the cost of these digital contact tracing tools is 2.4 million SGD to develop the TraceTogether app, 5.2 million SGD for developing SafeEntry, and 6.2 million SGD for the development and procurement of TraceTogether tokens.

The TraceTogether token is a wearable device. Similar to the TraceTogether mobile app, the token works by exchanging Bluetooth signals with other nearby tokens or phones running the TraceTogether app.

So far, TraceTogether has helped to identify about 25,000 close contacts of COVID-19 cases, of which 160 later tested positive for COVID-19, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in a written reply to parliamentary questions on November 2.

Gan added that the actual amount spent on contact tracing tools will depend on several factors, including the actual number of Singapore residents who need a token.

He said the effectiveness of TraceTogether increases as more users come onboard. The government therefore encourages more Singaporeans to join the TraceTogether programme, either by downloading the app or collecting and wearing the token."./.

Training course on air medical transportation organised

The Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations in collaboration with the Military Hospital 175 and the Air Defence - Air Force Service on November 2 launched a training course on air medical transportation for the level-2 field hospital No.3.

The field hospital is scheduled to leave for the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan later this year.

During the course, staff of the hospital will learn about the basic overview of air medical transportation system, principles of medical evacuation, transportation safety issues and experience by the UN Mission in South Sudan in the field.

Trainees will have a chance to learn how to deal with cases using helicopters guaranteed by the Air Division 370./.

95 pct. of Vietnamese infants given full vaccinations: Conference

VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 5 (updated hourly)

Ninety-five percent of Vietnamese infants have completed full vaccination programmes during the 2016-2020 period, under an expanded national vaccination programme, according to Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology Dang Duc Anh.

At a conference held in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on November 3, Anh said the percentage of fully-immunised infants has been maintained at above 90 percent since 2000.

Immunisation work this year has been affected by COVID-19, he said, adding that some 100,000 children missed out on life-saving DPT-VGB-HiB shots against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenza B (HIB).

According to a report from the institute, Vietnam successfully eradicated polio in 2000 and has worked to protect this achievement. It has good control over measles and is moving towards eliminating the disease shortly. National measles inoculation stands at over 95 percent.

Several new vaccines were put into use during the period, including the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), with over 2 million five-month-old children getting the first shots nationwide. In addition, children aged seven years have received a Td shot against tetanus and diphtheria since 2019. This year, the combined diphtheria and tetanus vaccine reached 35 cities and provinces nationwide.

The healthcare sector targets sustaining such achievements during 2021-2025 and is working to eradicate other diseases with vaccines while trying to improve the quality of the vaccination system./.

Forest areas in central region grow 374,000 ha in 2015-2019

Forested areas in Vietnam’s central region increased by 373,887 ha in the 2015-2019 period, according to the Vietnam Administration of Forestry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Provinces seeing the highest forest area increases were Quang Nam, with about 30,070 ha, Binh Dinh 51,095 ha, Phu Yen 42,305 ha, and Quang Binh 21,739 ha.

The central region is currently home to more than 5.55 million ha of forests, or 38.01 percent of Vietnam’s total, data from the forestry administration shows.

Of the figure, natural forests cover more than 3.79 million ha while planted forests span over 1.76 million ha.

The region’s forest coverage reached 55 percent, following only the northeast, with 56.28 percent.

MARD and the World Bank (WB) - the trustee agency of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) - signed an Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreement (ERPA) in October.

Under the terms, the FCPF will pay Vietnam 51.5 million USD if it fully implements its commitments, under which the north-central and central provinces of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue are to reduce CO2 emissions by 10.3 million tonnes in the 2018-2024 period.

The region, however, has lost over 3,100 ha of forests in recent times to deforestation and fire.

Forest coverage nationwide rose to 41.89 percent last year from 40.84 percent in 2015 and is projected to hit the targeted 42 percent this year.

As of the end of 2019, Vietnam had close to 14.61 million ha of forests, of which 10.29 million ha were natural forests./.

ST25 fragrant rice wins first prize

After winning the prize for best rice in the world in 2019, ST25 fragrant rice won first prize in the 2020 Việt Nam Best Rice Contest yesterday.

The contest was organized by the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), Crops Department , and Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) Newspaper.

The winner will represent Việt Nam in the 2020 World's Best Rice Contest this November.

Lê Thanh Tùng, deputy chairman of Crops Department, said at the contest that the organisers' desire was to promote high-quality rice varieties that can compete with other countries.

All rice products participating in the contest must be made in Việt Nam, be submitted for a national test for at least one crop, and have a minimum purity of 98 per cent.

The ST25 rice variety was developed by a group of Sóc Trăng-based agricultural engineers led by Hồ Quang Cua, former deputy director of Sóc Trăng Province’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department.

Last year, his ST24 rice variety was crowned the best in the world at The Rice Trader World Rice Conference 2019 in the Philippines.

This was the first time that Vietnamese rice was awarded the title.

The TRT World Rice Conference is the largest annual gathering of commercial and professional rice industry participants in the world.

VN promotes reproductive health care for adolescents and youths

Providing young people with knowledge about sexual and reproductive health combined with life skills education is a necessary and urgent issue, a top health official has said.

Many Vietnamese youths have limited knowledge of sexual intercourse or pregnancy, Nguyễn Đức Vinh, director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Ministry of Health, said at a recent workshop on sexual and reproductive health for adolescents and youth in Hà Nội.

The recent national survey on sexual and reproductive health by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Việt Nam and the Ministry of Health showed 15 per cent adolescents and young people have premarital sex before marriage.

This rate doubled compared to 2003 while in 2008 it was 9.5 per cent.

Notably, only 17.4 per cent of adolescents and young people correctly understand when a woman can become pregnant and only 25.9 per cent know how to use a condom during sexual intercourse.

Every year Việt Nam has about 1,300 abortions reported among women and girls aged 15-19.

Lack of understanding of health issues has caused unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion at private health facilities, leading to more risk of infertility in the future, sexually transmitted diseases and social evils, Vinh said.

To address sexual and reproductive health issues among adolescents and young people, Việt Nam has set a target of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies among adolescents/young people by two thirds, he added.

On August 28, Acting Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long issued a decision to promulgate a national action plan on sexual and reproductive health care for adolescents and young people.

To implement the above plan, the ministry is setting up and will soon issue a project on sexual and reproductive health care for adolescents and young people in 2020-2025.

The project will focus on promoting information, education and communication to raise awareness on reproductive health care and provide friendly health services; improving policies and laws to facilitate the implementation of the strategy.

The project will serve as a basis for provinces and cities to build and allocate resources to deal with sexual and reproductive health issues.

According to the UNFPA, Vietnamese adolescents and youth now have many development opportunities but also face challenges such as the impact of the integration process, globalisation, the rapidly changing of socio-economic environment and the negative aspects of the market economy, significantly affecting their lifestyles and psychology.

There are nearly 1.2 billion adolescents (10-19 years old) worldwide, accounting for one-sixth of the world's population.

In Việt Nam, adolescents make up about a quarter of the population. 

Elderly folks a precious resource: experts

Starting businesses among the elderly is considered a solution to ensure social security for them as the population ages, experts said at a forum held on Monday in Hà Nội.

The forum about livelihood and entrepreneurship for the elderly was held by the Department of Social Assistance and the Tạp chí Lao động Xã hội (Labour and Society) magazine.

The Population and Housing Census released in April last year by the General Statistics Office found the country had about 11.4 million people over 60 years old, accounting for about 11.86 per cent of the population. In which, there are more than 1.9 million people aged 80 and over, accounting for about 16.5 per cent of the total elderly population.

As many as 40-45 per cent of the elderly still work and have income besides their pension.

Referring to economic policies for the elderly, Nguyễn Hải Hữu, deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Vocational Education – Training and Social Work Profession, said the State should have specific livelihood support for the elderly, especially those living in disadvantaged areas.

The elderly also needed vocational training to change careers in accordance with the local situation, he said.

There should be policies to reduce training fees, fees for technology transfer and product consumption for the elderly.

“Livelihood supportive policies are an important premise to help the elderly ensure their own income and minimise their dependence on children,” he said.

The State should plan to develop and implement economic support policies for the elderly in accordance with the country’s socio-economic context and elderly people’s actual situation.

Nguyễn Lê Minh, former deputy head of the National Programme of Employment under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the elderly were a valuable resource.

“The elderly have the advantage of professional experience and social relationships built through years that young people cannot have. These things contribute to success, development and entrepreneurship of the elderly,” he said.

Việt Nam is preparing for a programme for the elderly in 2021-30, in which the State would work with the Elderly Association, Small and Medium Enterprises Association, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Farmers Association to help the elderly start businesses, according to Minh.

Even when the elderly have successfully started a business, the State and organisations will continue to work with their businesses and help them with matters related to laws and product consumption.

Nguyễn Thị Kim Hoa, a lecturer from the Hà Nội University for Social Science and Humanities, said it was not easy for the elderly to find a job, as there was no recruitment information channel for this group.

“The elderly group lack information about the labour market,” she said.

To solve that problem, said Hoa, the Department of Employment was working with job centres to organise job exchanges for the elderly.

"There are a lot of jobs the elderly can do without affecting the young’s opportunity to find work," she added.

In addition, she said, when the elderly join the labour market, it would create a better stimulus, especially when Việt Nam enters the ageing population period. 

Respiratory virus spreads quickly among infants as season changes

The National Paediatrics Hospital in the last two weeks has admitted an increasing number of babies infected with the respiratory syncytial virus, a lung and breathing passage infection affecting children under two years old.

Most patients being treated at the respiratory intensive care department are infants under six months old who contracted respiratory syncytial virus and have to be on ventilators while already having underlying medical conditions or born premature.

At the age of two months, baby N.N.T from Hà Nội’s Hà Đông District has to be put on ventilator due to severe pneumonia.

The patient's family members said the first symptom the baby had was a cough with phlegm. When the child showed signs of breathing difficulties and convulsions, he was hospitalised.

Doctor Lê Thanh Chương, head of the Respiratory Intensive Care Department of the National Paediatrics Hospital, said the baby was admitted to the emergency room with rapid breathing. After a physical examination, doctors found that the baby was very tired with a worsening condition.

After three days of ventilation, his condition has improved.

Another baby, four months old and born premature, was transferred from the Obstetrics and Paediatrics Hospital of the central province Nghệ An to the National Paediatrics Hospital after 12 days of respiratory syncytial virus treatment without any progress.

The child has made little improvement after several days of being on a ventilator at the National Paediatrics Hospital.

Associate Professor Lê Thị Hồng Hanh, director of the Respiratory Centre of the National Paediatrics Hospital, said there were many types of viruses that cause respiratory diseases. The first one in the list is the respiratory syncytial virus.

When the seasons change, the number of children infected with the virus increases because of changing humidity, which helps the virus spread more widely.

According to the National Paediatrics Hospital, in the last month, 40 to 50 children have been admitted to the hospital each day carrying that virus, while the number is usually around 14 on normal days.

All 150 beds at the centre have been filled. About 50 are for babies infected with respiratory syncytial virus and isolated in a separate zone to avoid infection. Doctors at the centre have to transfer cases with milder conditions to other units to admit more cases of respiratory syncytial virus which are estimated to double compared to the previous period, Hanh said.

All beds for inpatients at the Việt Nam-Cuba Hospital in Hà Nội have been also filled, with 60 per cent occupied by patients infected with respiratory diseases such as rhinitis, amidanitis, bronchitis and bronchiolitis.

According to Associate Professor Lê Thị Hồng Hanh, children under six months old, especially infants born prematurely or new-borns with underlying conditions, contract more severe cases of respiratory syncytial virus because the children's immune systems are incomplete and easily attacked by the virus.

The disease caused by the virus develops very fast. In some cases, babies are healthy but develop symptoms the next day and have to be on ventilators right after that.

The respiratory syncytial virus is found in the throat and is potentially contagious. Adults who have that virus in their throats may not be infected with the disease because of better resistance, however, if they cough, sneeze or hug babies, the virus will be easily spread to the children.

Currently, there is no specific treatment, only symptomatic treatment. Therefore, parents need to avoid taking children to public places, contacting people with symptoms of coughing, fever or runny nose, the doctor said.

She also advised parents to wash their hands before taking care of their children and especially avoid kissing children because it can potentially spread the virus.

Doctors warn that illnesses caused by the respiratory syncytial virus have common symptoms of runny nose and mild fever at the early stage. Then the patient will have a higher fever with rapid and difficult breathing.

Some children with mild conditions can do activities normally and recover by themselves after three to five days. However, the conditions will turn worse quickly with infants under six months old who were born prematurely, are underweight or were born with heart disease.

Dr Nguyễn Thị Anh Xuân, head of paediatrics unit of the Việt Nam-Cuba Hospital, said if children have a light fever but do not have breathing difficulties and still can eat and drink as normal, they should stay at home, clean their nose and throat and be given plenty of water.

When the child has a high fever, coughs more, has difficulty breathing, eats less, urinates less, and breathes quickly in the chest, then the child is showing very severe symptoms.

Families must take their child to the medical facility and should not buy medicine without prescriptions. 

Bladder tumours difficult to treat

Eighty per cent of bladder tumours are cancerous and difficult to treat, according to Dr Nguyễn Hoàng Luông of the urological endoscopy department at Bình Dân Hospital in HCM City.

Many hospitals in the country including Bình Dân Hospital have seen more and more patients with bladder tumours.  

The hospital each month admits 60 to 80 patients with bladder tumours which have not yet spread to muscles, Luông said.

More than 1,000 new cases of urinary bladder cancer are diagnosed in Việt Nam every year. Around half of the patients die due to the disease.

According to Luông, the development of diagnostic imaging and pathology has helped detect more and more incidences of bladder tumours

To treat bladder tumours, many hospitals such as Bình Dân Hospital use lasers and chemotherapy.

Bình Dân Hospital conducted a study on use lasers and chemotherapy to treat 68 patients with bladder tumours from 2014 to 2016. The study showed that effectiveness and safety in treatment was high. Only 10 of them experienced a tumour reoccurrence.

In the study, more than 79 per cent of them were male and aged between 51 and 70. Seventy-two of the male patients had a history of smoking.  The common symptom among these patients was blood in urine. The hospital’s doctors said the average size of the tumour was nearly 19 milimetres and the number of tumours in each person ranged from one to three.

Dr Nguyễn Phúc Cẩm Hoàng, the hospital’s deputy director, told Việt Nam News: “The cancer does not have any specific symptoms and are the same as infections in the bladder or kidney or kidney stones: blood in urine.”

If patients have blood in their urine and are treated but do not recover within two months, they should go to specialised hospitals for examination and treatment, he said. Doctors should then prescribe tests for bladder cancer, he said.

Health experts said that people who smoke have four times higher risk of bladder cancer than non-smokers. People whose work involves chemicals are at a higher risk.

Officials abet forest destruction in central highlands province

Some officials have failed to fulfil their task and supported the illegal poisoning and cutting of pine forests in Dak Nong Province, according to an investigation.

 The information has just been revealed by Dak Nong Province People’s Committee in their report following an investigation into the death of a vast area of pine forest in Dak G’long District.

The investigation, which was led by a deputy secretary of the provincial Party Committee had come to check the forest management and protection work at two communes of Quang Son and Dak Ha where a large area of pine forests have been poisoned or cut down.

According to the committee's report, the forest area in these two communes had decreased by nearly 226 hectares between 2010-2019. Nearly 32 hectares of pipe forest had been poisoned by chemicals. The poisoning of pine forests has been reported several times yet no one has been held responsible or punished by the law.

The committee said that there are some causes that have led to the illegal forest destruction and forest land encroachment in the area, including improper policies in planning and managing forest and forest land.

"Authorities in Dak G’Long District have failed to fulfil their tasks in forest management, especially when co-operating with private firms and organisations in forest plantation and management," the committee said. "In some cases when their contracts ended, local authorities were slow in completing the forest transferring procedures, leaving the forest unmanaged and being destroyed."

The committee also noted that some local officials were found to support and aid in the forest destruction.

"Some officials even hired people to illegally cut down the pine trees,” the report said.

The committee urged police in Dak G'long District to quickly investigate and deal with the violations in this forest destruction case and strictly punished those responsible.

It is said that Dak G'long Police Department has prosecuted six forest destruction cases which involved four accused since 2010.



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