The Vietnam Red Cross Society (VNRC)’s 2021 humanitarian month themed “For a safe community” will take place in May, with its activities being in full swing between May 8 and 19.

Following a three-year pilot, the event is officially run across all VNRC’s units this year.

It will focus on increasing activities for improved public health, raising public awareness on COVID-19, calling for assistance toward COVID-19 prevention and control, and supporting disadvantaged people, particularly those affected by the pandemic.

Provincial and municipal chapters of the VNRC have been ordered to organise the month in line with the local COVID-19 situations, with suggested activities including charity markets, blood donation events, free health checkups, and celebrations of World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.

The month-long humanitarian event is expected to help at least 150,000 people in need and build 75 charity facilities worth at least 100 million VND (4,322 USD) each.

Since 2018, the programme has so far mobilised nearly 1.7 trillion VND, assisted more than 2.25 million people, and construct over 400 charity facilities./.

International Francophonie Day marked in Hanoi

The Foreign Ministry in coordination with the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) held a ceremony in Hanoi on March 19 marking the International Francophonie Day (March 20).

Addressing the event, Deputy Foreign Minister Dang Hoang Giang lauded the Francophone community for its achievements over the past five decades in the fields of peace, security, economy, culture and sustainable development.

He hailed the theme “Francophone women, resilient women” of the International Francophonie Day this year to honour women who have made contributions to the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic economic recovery to bring lives to the “new normal”.

According to him, Vietnam has made substantial contributions to the common development of the Francophone community, including upholding the role of French language in the United Nations and actively assisting Francophone nations in coping with the pandemic.

Vietnam will continue actively joining in efforts to strengthen solidarity and cooperation in the Francophone space for the sake of peace, stability and sustainable development in the world, he said.

Chief Representative for the Asia-Pacific of the OIF Chekou Oussouman speaks at the event (Photo: VNA)
Chekou Oussouman, Chief Representative for the Asia-Pacific of the OIF, for his part, affirmed that Francophone solidarity has been manifested since the onset of COVID-19 outbreak and this year’s theme is an appeal to honour Francophone women.

He also reiterated the OIF’s commitment to fostering economic cooperation in Francophone space, including sending a Francophone economic working group to Vietnam for a trip in October.

On the occasion, Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam Paul Jensen, who is also Chair of Ambassadors of the Group of Francophone Embassies, Delegations and Institutions in Vietnam (GADIF) presented GADIF awards to Prof. Vo Van Chuong, Dean of the French Faculty at Can Tho University and Tran Cong Danh, manager of VPBank in Ho Chi Minh City.

The annual awards aim to honour outstanding individuals who made important contributions to popularising the French language in Vietnam as well as ties between Vietnam and OIF.

Participants at the event were treated to music performances staged by French and Vietnamese artists./.

Deputy Foreign Minister holds talks with German foreign affairs official

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung held talks with Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany Niels Annen on March 19 at the proposal of the German side.  

During the talks, the German official congratulated Vietnam on its success as Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and appreciated the close coordination between Vietnam in its capacity as Chair of ASEAN, and Germany as Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2020. He said the coordination contributed to important results in the ASEAN-EU partnership in general and ASEAN-Germany partnership in particular, including the elevation of ASEAN-EU ties to a strategic partnership.

Annen also took note of the good development of bilateral relations across the fields, and affirmed Germany’s policy on attaching importance to and strengthening Germany’s presence in and cooperation with the Southeast Asian region, in which Vietnam continues to be a high priority.

Deputy Minister Dung affirmed that Vietnam treasures the cooperative relations with Germany and values the support and coordination that Germany provided for Vietnam in 2020 in the framework of ASEAN and the UN Security Council.

The Vietnamese official welcomed Germany’s stronger cooperation with ASEAN and regional countries, as well as its support for the ASEAN in building the ASEAN Community and responding to emerging challenges.  

Mentioning the situation in Myanmar, the German Minister of State said Germany pays close attention to and is concerned about the instability and escalating violence in the country. He noted that Germany supports ASEAN’s efforts in this regard and expects the bloc to continue playing its role in helping with dialogue and the search for a solution.

Deputy Minister Dung shared the concern about the developments in Myanmar and informed the Germany side that Vietnam is working actively with other ASEAN countries to help find a solution, while calling for restraint, dialogue and reconciliation so as to bring the situation in Myanmar back to normal for the interests of Myanmar people as well as for the sake of peace, stability and development in the region./.

More than 30,900 Vietnamese vaccinated against COVID-19

No new case of COVID-19 was reported in the past 12 hours to 6am March 20, while more than 30,900 people have received shots of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Health Ministry.

Among 2,571 cases confirmed so far in Vietnam, 2,198 have been given the all-clear. The death toll remains at 35.

Among patients still under treatment, 37 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 18 twice and 63 thrice.

Meanwhile, 37,599 people are being quarantined nationwide, with 492 at hospitals, 18,379 at concentrated quarantine facilities and 18,728 at their accommodations.

Ten provinces and cities have gone through 35 days without detecting any new COVID-19 cases, including Ho Chi Minh City, while Hanoi has gone free of the virus for 32 days.

Standard level of social assistance to be raised from July 1

A doctor cares for an invalid at a medical centre in Bac Ninh province

The standard level of social assistance will increase from 270,000 VND (11.72 USD) to 360,000 VND (15.63 USD) per month from July 1, 2021, according to Decree No.20/2021/ND-CP providing social support policies for those entitled to social protection.

Besides, the decree gives regulations on regular social assistance in community, unplanned social support, care and nurturing at the social protection establishments or social houses.

The decree defines six forms of urgent support including food support, support for seriously injured people, support for funeral costs, support for house building and repair, urgent support to children when their parents die or are missing due to natural disasters, fire or other unforeseen reasons and support for job and production development./.

Directive issued to fuel development of border areas

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a directive on the attraction of social resources for performing socio-economic development tasks in land, sea, and island border areas in tandem with firmly safeguarding the national sovereignty and improving people’s living standards.

Directive 07/CT-TTg stated that land, sea, and island border areas hold critical importance in terms of national defence and security. They also have conditions and basis to create momentum for socio-economic development in the time ahead as there remains much room and potential for development in these areas.

The PM requested ministries, sectors, central agencies, and localities to carry out some relevant duties and solutions such as issuing mechanisms and policies on investment in border areas and improving investment effectiveness there, increasing investment in the border areas included in the planning of economic – defence zones, strictly managing cross-border economic activities and policies, and publicising topographical and administrative maps of border areas.

He also told the Ministry of Planning and Investment to coordinate with related ministries, sectors, and localities to make annual assessments of the directive implementation and report to the PM.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defence was assigned to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant ministries and sectors to continue negotiating with China and Cambodia to address pending issues related to land, sea, and island borders.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also tasked with directing and instructing related localities to effectively carry out the documents guiding the implementation of the legal documents on the Vietnam – China, Vietnam – Laos, and Vietnam – Cambodia land borders, along with the relevant legal documents on socio-economic development, defence – security enhancement, and external affairs in the provinces having land borders.

Besides, the PM asked the localities with land, sea and island border areas to prioritise capital for building infrastructure in those areas, especially trading and transport infrastructure; provide preferential treatment for businesses which make investment, expand operations, and diversify goods sources for cross-border export and import; and create the best possible conditions for local residents' cross-border trading./.

'Adventures of a Cricket' to be performed on stage

Lệ Ngọc Theatre will introduce two plays, Dế Mèn (Cricket) and Làm Vua (the King), in the coming months despite the challenges facing Việt Nam's theatres these days.

According to its managers, the two plays will be performed on the occasion of National Reunification Day on April 30 and President Hồ Chí Minh’s birthday on May 19.

Dế Mèn will be scripted by playwright Lê Chí Trung and directed by People’s Artist Nguyễn Tiến Dũng, also the director of the Vietnam National Puppetry Theatre. It is adapted from the popular children’s novel Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký (The Adventures of the Cricket) by author Tô Hoài.

The producers said the play will feature the exciting adventures of the main character, the cricket, during which a lively colourful world of creatures will be presented to the audience.

“Via the exciting adventures of the cricket, the play conveys the message of a spirit of inquisitiveness and discovery, in addition to the motherhood that is embodied by the character of the mother cricket who always accompanies her child in every failure and success,” said Dũng.

In Dế Mèn, Dũng will integrate many creative elements to the stage to enthrall the young audience, “with the aim of making a fun and interesting play that is also capable of conveying educational messages and being appropriate to children’s psychology.”

Written by Nguyễn Đăng Chương and directed by artist Lê Quý Dương, Làm Vua is a theatrical work honouring King Đinh Tiên Hoàng, the founder of the Đinh Dynasty and the kingdom of Đại Cồ Việt (968-1054).

Set in the Đinh dynasty, the play features stories about King Đinh Tiên Hoàng in the relationship with other royal family members and other historical figures like Queen Dương Vân Nga, General Lê Hoàn and Princess Phất Kim.

Director Lê Quý Dương said that the quality of the script was why he accepted the invitation to work with the Lệ Ngọc Theatre in staging Làm Vua.

The two plays will be performed by artists of the theatre such as People's Artist Lệ Ngọc, Văn Hải, Lâm Cương, Châu Sa and Huy Hoàng.

Speaking at the press conference introducing the launch of two plays, Trịnh Thúy Mùi, the chairwoman of the Vietnam Theatre Artists Association said she was taken by surprise because no theatre in the country has staged two plays at one time in present days.

"We have always asked the question where the theatres are but have never been answered because they are encountering too many difficulties, particularly in 2021.

“When Lệ Ngọc Theatre announced that they would launch two plays at one time, I thought they were too risky. But when I studied carefully, I found that they are following the right way within their capacity,” she said.

Artists from Lệ Ngọc will perform two plays at one time to the audience on the occasion of the national Reunification Day on April 30 and President Hồ Chí Minh’s birthday on May 19. Photo
Explaining the decision, Nguyễn Thế Vinh, the executive director of Lệ Ngọc Theatre said the unit expects to serve new spiritual dishes full of emotions to the audience, especially children.

At the same time, the performances of two plays will kick off activities of the theatres in the capital after a period of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, the theatre staged nearly 200 performances.

VNUHCM aims at becoming nucleus of HCM City’s innovative area

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has recognised the Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM) as a hub of science, technology, culture, and knowledge in the city’s innovative eastern area.

The area has contributed to the establishment of a value-added chain for a high-technology platform and international standard technical infrastructure.

The city’s leaders are expecting the eastern innovative urban area to help connect science-technology research and application centres, high-quality human resource training institutions, hi-tech products, services trading and production centres.

The area will become a hub that spearheads economic development in the city and southern region in the context of the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Innovative centre

Spread over 643ha, VNUHCM has been developed as a centre to train undergraduates and postgraduates and carry on high-quality research in many fields to serve the country’s socio-economic development needs.

It is the largest higher education establishment in the country with 36 institutions for training, researching and transferring technologies, including seven member universities: the University of Technology, University of Science, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, International University, University of Information Technology, University of Economics and Law, and An Giang University, and the Institute for Environment and Resources.

In addition, in the 2016 – 2020 period, VNUHCM has trained more than 60,000 engineers, doctors, graduates, postgraduates, and PhDs who are certain to contribute to the development of the city and southern region.

As of now it has had 66 internationally accredited training programmes and was ranked in the top 701-750 in the 2020 QS World University Rankings. In this period, it presented more than 20,000 scientific research papers at conferences and published them in local and international journals. VNUHCM signed more than 3,000 contracts with provinces and enterprises for technology transfer worth nearly 250 billion VND (10.8 million USD) a year in the 2016-2020 period.

A household aquaponic model that integrates vegetable and fish farming has, for instance, been transferred to Tay Ninh and Dong Thap provinces.

Furthermore, Cartilatist stem medicine has been developed by the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Science to treat osteoarthritis and degenerative spinal conditions. Subsequently, it has been transferred to the Van Hanh General Hospital Co. Ltd. An automatic system to monitor and warn about saltwater intrusion has been transferred to the provinces of An Giang and Vinh Long.

During COVID-19 outbreaks last year, VNUHCM researchers developed a number of products used for the prevention and control of epidemics.

The number of papers VNUHCM published in international journals doubled in the 2016-2020 period from the previous five years.

As of October 2020, it had filed 527 applications for patents and 566 technology transfer contracts and scientific services that fetched revenues of 104.2 billion VND (4.5 million USD).

In The World University Rankings 2021 of 1,527 universities, VNUHCM was in 658th spot in the category of income from technology transfer and 838th in international potential.

One of VNUHCM’s strategies is to continue focusing on scientific and technological development and innovation to help implement national and southern region development strategies and to raise its international profile.

In 2020-2030 period, it plans to offer international-standard training programmes in ICT, AI and urban management. AI applications for use in traffic regulation, healthcare, finance, and commerce will be developed during this period.

VNUHCM is one of the higher education establishments in the country offering students training programs in two majors simultaneously. It has tied up with a number of member universities of the ASEAN University Network - the ASEAN Credit Transfer System for exchange students and also has agreements with universities in the US, the UK, France, Australia, and other countries.

In the last 25 years VNUHCM has adopted modern methodologies and integrated technologies for training.

In November last year VNUHCM signed an agreement with the Saigon Hi-Tech Park for technology transfer to enterprises in the park for commercialisation.

They will join hands for an action plan to establish the innovative eastern urban area, a high-quality human resource training programme at hi-tech industries and an innovative start-up ecosystem.

VNUHCM’s Innovative Entrepreneurship Centre has carried out many programmes to assist start-ups and links these start-ups with investors and service providers.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vu Hai Quan, VNUHCM’s chancellor, said skilled human resources, technology transfer, advanced IT, and policies for development are key pillars for setting up the innovative eastern urban area. The project is implemented in Thu Duc city and spreads over nearly 21,000 hectares.

Moreover, the innovative eastern area has invested in traffic systems including the metro line 1, Belt Road No.3 and the HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway, which helps connect with neighbouring provinces.

In January, the municipal People’s Committee approved a master plan to develop the innovative eastern urban area in the 2020-2035 period and it will be carried out in three specific stages.

According to VNUHCM, while carrying out the work, city authorities and relevant agencies should pay close attention to developing traffic infrastructure in the innovative eastern urban area especially VNUHCM and Saigon Hi-Tech Park to create the most favourable conditions for interaction and development.

VNUHCM aims to become the nucleus of the area by 2030./.

Ministry requests extra efforts to better preserve national treasures

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has sent a document to ministries, sectors, socio-political organisations, and People’s Committees of provinces and cities requesting more efforts to protect, preserve and promote the values of national treasures.

The ministry also urged making dossiers seeking the recognition of national treasures in the 10th batch in 2021.

As of late 2020, Vietnam had 215 national treasures approved by the Prime Minister, which are being conserved by organisations and individuals of the Party Central Committee Office, the Ministries of Home Affairs and National Defence, and the People’s Committees of several provinces and centrally-run cities.

To better the conservation work, the ministry requests relevant agencies to build and carry out a special protection plan for each national treasure, with priority given to measures to prevent fires, explosions, robbery and natural disasters to ensure absolute safety.

They are required to promptly report to relevant agencies at higher levels on any problems affecting the preservation of the national treasures.

Ministries, sectors, and localities should prioritize resources to upgrade infrastructure of the preservation spaces and relic sites where the treasures are kept.

Dossiers seeking the recognition of national treasures should be sent to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism before August 31./.

Ministry requests extra efforts to better preserve national treasures

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has sent a document to ministries, sectors, socio-political organisations, and People’s Committees of provinces and cities requesting more efforts to protect, preserve and promote the values of national treasures.

The ministry also urged making dossiers seeking the recognition of national treasures in the 10th batch in 2021.

As of late 2020, Vietnam had 215 national treasures approved by the Prime Minister, which are being conserved by organisations and individuals of the Party Central Committee Office, the Ministries of Home Affairs and National Defence, and the People’s Committees of several provinces and centrally-run cities.

To better the conservation work, the ministry requests relevant agencies to build and carry out a special protection plan for each national treasure, with priority given to measures to prevent fires, explosions, robbery and natural disasters to ensure absolute safety.

They are required to promptly report to relevant agencies at higher levels on any problems affecting the preservation of the national treasures.

Ministries, sectors, and localities should prioritize resources to upgrade infrastructure of the preservation spaces and relic sites where the treasures are kept.

Dossiers seeking the recognition of national treasures should be sent to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism before August 31./.

Binh Phuoc focuses on helping 1,000 ethnic minority households escape from poverty

The southern province of Binh Phuoc plans to mobilise resources to implement a plan to help 1,000 ethnic minority households get rid of poverty in 2021.

The plan, which has been approved by the provincial People’s Committee, covers three border districts of Bu Gia Map, Loc Ninh and Bu Dop, and Dong Phu, Hon Quang, Phu Rieng, Bu Dang districts and Binh Long township.

Currently, Binh Phuoc is calling for the engagement of the community, socio-political and mass organisations in the scheme.

Along with the implementation of policies in the national target programme on poverty reduction, this year, the province will provide land to 30 households, while giving housing support to 570 households and helping 443 others in building hygiene toilets.

At the same time, 332 households will be supported to access information, while 49 others will approach capital from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, and 830 households will receive support to increase their incomes.

The total cost for the scheme is estimated at over 89.3 billion VND (3.85 million USD).

According to the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the programme to reduce 1,000 poor households from ethnic minority groups in 2020 surpassed its targets by helping 1,250 households to get rid of poverty.

If this year Binh Phuoc manage to reduce the ratio of poor households by 1 percent, the rate will be reduced to 1.56 percent. With this result, in the 2020-2025 period, Binh Phuoc is likely to surpass its targets in the field./.

HCM City metro service to be trialled this year as scheduled

HCM City’s first metro line between Bến Thành Market in District 1 and Suối Tiên Theme Park in Thủ Đức city will start trial operations at the end of this year as scheduled, according to its operator.

The HCM City Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) said construction is 83 per cent complete.  

Huỳnh Hồng Thanh, its deputy head, on Tuesday apprised the city People’s Committee chairman, Nguyễn Thành Phong, who was inspecting a metro construction site, about the situation.

MAUR is assessing the impact of COVID-19 on construction progress and will report to the chairman by June if there is a likely delay.

Thanh said construction is progressing as scheduled, and electricity will be provided to the Bình Thái elevated station by March 27.

Four more trains will arrive in the city by July, he said.

Construction of the City Opera House and Ba Son stations will be 99 per cent finished in June and the central station will be completed in November.  

Bùi Xuân Cường, the head of MAUR, said the city should allow the private sector to invest in projects on building streets near river to link to the Ba Son station.   

Phong instructed the Department of Transport and other relevant agencies to quickly resolve problems related to the construction to ensure the metro operates as scheduled.

It should have comprehensive and concerted plans to exploit the facilities available at stations efficiently, he said.

Engineers will be trained from July 20, with 59 people signed up so far. The No 1 Urban Railway Co. Ltd. is currently accepting applications for other positions.

Built at a cost of US$2.05 billion, the 19.7km line has 14 stations, three underground and some elevated, and runs through districts 1 and Bình Thạnh, Thủ Đức city and neighbouring Bình Dương Province. 

Deal signed to promote Prime Minister’s 1-billion-tree initiative

The Government’s e-Portal, Vietnam Television (VTV) Digital, and property developer Novaland signed an agreement on March 19 for cooperation in sustainable development, with focus placed on the planting of 10 million trees in several localities.

The tree-planting programme aims to help translate Vietnam’s goal of planting 1 billion new trees by 2025 into reality. The goal was initiated by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last November.

Under the agreement, and VTV Digital will provide Novaland with support in communicating information about the 10-million-tree-planting programme, with between 1 and 2 million trees to be planted in Vietnam this year.

Nguyen Hong Sam, Director-General of the Government’s e-Portal, said Novaland is the first company in the country to respond to the PM’s 1-billion-tree initiative. He hoped that the number of trees planted under the programme will not just reach 10 million but go even higher.

He also pledged that the Government’s e-Portal and VTV Digital will continue to accelerate communications campaigns on the 1-billion-tree initiative around the country./.

In Đồng Tháp Province, 3 forests face highest fire risk

Three forests in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Đồng Tháp are facing the highest level of fire risk, the fifth, according to its Forest Protection Sub-department.

They include the protective forest in Tân Hồng District, Động Cát Station and the forest and grassland at the Gò Tháp Heritage Site in Tháp Mười District.

Nguyễn Tấn Thành, head of the sub-department, said the places could catch fire on a large scale and the blaze could spread rapidly.

They mostly have cajuput and eucalyptus trees and are close to farming areas, he said.

During the ongoing dry season forest managers have taken various prevention measures, including preparing firefighting facilities and equipment in high-risk areas.

Inflammable materials have been cleared from nearby forests and fire breaks have been created.

They have dredged water bodies inside forests to ensure boats with equipment could sail to prevent and control fires, pumped water into forests to reduce the dryness and stored water for firefighting.

In the protective forest in Tân Hồng District, which the district’s Defence – Economic Unit 959 manages, it has dredged canals and ponds to store more water.  

At the Tràm Chim National Park in Tam Nông District, the management has installed cameras at key sites to monitor fires. 

The 7,313ha park has mostly cajuput trees and is a Ramsar wetlands site of international importance.

In the Xẻo Quýt cajuput forest in Cao Lãnh District, the management board has installed pumps and regularly sprays water to reduce dryness in places visited by tourists.

Thành said during high tides forest managers should pump water into forests to increase the humidity and store water for possible firefighting.

They should step up patrols and monitor the forests around the clock to promptly discover and control fires, he said.

Đồng Tháp has more than 12,000ha of mostly cajuput and eucalyptus forests.

The sub-department has trained 1,746 people in the province in combating forest fires, and issued hundreds of booklets on it this year.

It has undertaken advocacy activities on radio and TV, and bought equipment for preventing and fighting forest fires, including a fire truck and hoses.

Public health insurance proving its value

The 57-year-old H’Bit Niê of Buôn Ma Thuột City was taken into hospital after “extreme” pain in her back and legs.

Doctors at Thiện Hạnh General Hospital said that she had suffered multilevel disc herniation and had to undergo surgery to replace one of her discs with an artificial disc. The surgery normally costs about VNĐ60 million (US$2,600).

H’Bit Niê said that without a health insurance card, she and her family would have had to borrow from her friends and relatives to pay the bill.

It was very difficult for farming households like hers to manage such an expensive medical service, she said.

“A few years ago, I was told about the benefits of buying health insurance,” H’Bit Niê said, adding that her whole family had bought insurance since then.

“Thanks to health insurance, I felt reassured to receive treatment at the hospital. My children don’t have to worry about medical costs for me,” she said.

Her daughter H’Duyên Niê said health insurance paid for her mother’s surgery and that doctors and nurses at the hospital wholeheartedly cared for patients.

H’Bit Niê was discharged from the hospital 10 days after the surgery.

Another patient at Thiện Hạnh General Hospital named Nguyễn Long said that when he was at the hospital for his coronary artery blockage, he saw the value and the need for a health insurance card.

“My family is struggling to afford my medical costs,” he said.

“Once leaving the hospital, I will buy health insurance in case I get an illness in future,” Long said.

At Buôn Ma Thuột City General Hospital, 62-year-old Nguyễn Thị Lấn said her family bought a household health insurance package three years ago.

Now, she is treated for high blood pressure and degenerative spine but doesn't worry much about medical costs any more, Lấn said.

Trần Thị Loan, of Buôn Đôn District in the same Central Highland Province of Đắk Lắk, said her husband was under treatment for kidney and stomach problems.

“We spent more than VNĐ100 million ($4,300) last year when my husband went to the hospital in HCM City without a health insurance card,” Loan said.

“Previously, we did not think one day we would get a serious illness and have to go to the hospital, so we used to think that health insurance was not necessary,” Loan said.

“Diseases can happen to anyone at any time,” Loan said, adding that she bought health insurance for her whole family early this year.

“During this treatment, my family only paid VNĐ20 million as the health insurance fund paid part of my husband’s treatment costs,” Loan said.

Director of Thiện Hạnh General Hospital Phạm Trường Tấn said that since 2000, public health insurance cardholders could use health services at the hospital with part of their medical costs covered by public health insurance.

The insurance payments were the same as those at public hospitals.

Until last year, nearly 80,000 health insurance cardholders registered to receive primary healthcare at Thiện Hạnh Hospital, Tấn said.

People with or without health insurance cards were treated the same at Thiện Hạnh Hospital, Tấn emphasised.

According to Đắk Lắk Province’s Health Department, the province’s Social Security Agency has been working with local hospitals to serve health insurance cardholders.

Insured patients were timely examined and treated as well as transferred to higher-levelled hospitals if needed. 

Exhibition brings together works of millennial artists

A group of young millennial artists will present their works in an exhibition that will open tomorrow at Manzi Art Space.

Entitled Cõi Riêng Ảo or Virtual Private Realms, the exhibition brings together the works of seven artists, including Lananh Le, Din Sama, Nguyễn Đức Huy, mi-mimi, Nghĩa Đặng, Trịnh Cẩm Nhi, and Hà Ninh, with a focus on painting.

Belonging to the millennial generation, these artists have contributed to a new wave of practitioners in the Vietnamese art scene. The works in the exhibition, while diverse in style, share similarities in their visual lexicon.

Virtual Private Realms mostly introduces the artists' most recent creations, coupled with experimentation that expands the boundaries of paper, canvas, the act of drawing, and other elements of painting.

The free entrance exhibition will open daily from 10am to 7pm until April 19. Manzi Art Space is at 14 Phan Huy Ích Street. 

VND200 billion invested into Hoi An fire fighting project

Authorities in the central province of Quang Nam have approved a VND200 billion (USD8.69 million) project on fire prevention and control in Hoi An City.

The project, invested by Hoi An City People’s Committee, will be carried out in five years.  

Under the project, the auto fire alarm system will be installed at 1,107 historical and cultural relics in the ancient town. The project will also include the construction of water supply system and underground water tanks as well as a smart electricity system for fire fighting.

Hoi An City is now home to 1.438 historical sites, including 1,130 in the old town. The majority of the sites are privately-owned old houses which are made of wood. Many roads in Hoi An Town are narrow and lack fire fighting systems.

Increased tourism service was among the causes of higher fire risks for Hoi An.

Nguyen Van Lanh, vice chairman of Hoi An City People’s Committee, said the project was an urgent need to help preserve Hoi An town.

Lanh added that Hoi An had dealt with works facing the risk of collapse but the city was still facing challenges of fire, natural disasters and human impact.

Spread from “Think Playgrounds”

“Think Playgrounds” (TPG) is the name of a special social enterprise, which brings together young people and their creativity, striving to provide an interesting and useful playground for children in the public spaces of the city.
In the early days of March, a ceremony to inaugurate a children’s playground called “San Choi No Than”, or Magic CrossBow Playground, was held in Dong Anh district, in Hanoi. The playground was built 5km from the ancient Co Loa Citadel with the magic crossbow legend woven into the history of the Vietnamese people.

Different from normal playgrounds, it was created by TPG enterprise in collaboration with artist Uu Dam based on the legend of An Duong Vuong's Magic CrossBow. The centre of the playground is an image of a giant magic crossbow divided into four parts. Children can freely play movement games such as: Sliding, going through the tube, and swinging.

Using the cultural material of the community as the inspiration for a playground for children in the community, the organisers of the Magic CrossBow Playground want the children to have fun and access historical values. The playground is just one of about 200 free children's playgrounds built by TPG over the past six years to support the community.

Female architect Chu Kim Duc, a Director of TPG, shared that at the end of 2013, she met an American woman with a lot of enthusiasm for the children's playground. She intended to give the capital's children a public playground in the city centre. For many reasons, this idea has not come to full fruition, but her unfinished project caused Kim Duc to ponder a lot.

She focused on observation and realized that urban children today are much more disadvantaged in terms of play space than rural children and compared to the childhood that her generation experienced.

Born in Hanoi in 1980, architect Chu Kim Duc used to have many playing spaces around the house. From the sidewalk, walkway to the communal playgrounds in the neighborhood, all are full of memories with her friends.

However, this is not easy now because real estate in the community is often used as a place to do business, and few people think about creating playgrounds for children. Children who want to play active games have to wait for their parents to arrange a time to bring them to other play areas and sometimes it costs a fee to get to these areas.

The children's playground has not been focused, prompting architect Kim Duc and her friend Quoc Dat to establish TPG in 2014 with a desire to change the community's perception of the need for playgrounds for children.

Initially, TPG worked as a volunteer group specialising in organizing and designing children's playgrounds, thereafter officially becoming a social enterprise to maintain sustainability and its long-term ability to operate.

The first playground held by TPG is at the mango garden space in the middle of the Red River, Hanoi. From materials such as old tires, industrial planks, bamboo, nets, and ropes, a lovely and colourful playground with swings, slides, and seesaw has been formed. Next, TPG organised a Play Day event - a fun day that attracted a large number of children and parents. Seeing their happy smiles as they were free to play, TPG members had even more motivation and confidence in their chosen direction.

This first success also opened up opportunities for many "community leaders", heads of residential areas, party secretaries or women's union representatives at ward level, to create playgrounds for children in the neighborhoods they live in, through TPG.

Many models of playgrounds for children were formed in many areas, such as in the communal house of Ngoc Ha village, Thanh Cong collective zone, Trung Hoa, Tan Mai ward, and Ha Lo village. Up to now, TPG has built about 200 playgrounds for children across the country, of which half are in Hanoi, the rest in the Northwest, Northeast, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City.

However, the journey of providing playgrounds for children is not easy. Anh Quoc Dat, co-founder of TPG shared, in order to make a playground for children, firstly, it is necessary to have a space, but “the fight” to regain public space is not easy. The consensus of the residential community is needed.

After finding the space, finding ways to connect with donors to mobilize funds is equally arduous. In addition, funding for playground maintenance and community awareness after the playground is built is also essential.

As a social enterprise, TPG determined to use part of the profits earned from its business for to the community.

When building playgrounds, whether it's a fixed or adventure playground, community garden or a mobile playground in a multi-purpose space, TPG always tries to use recycled materials. According to architect Chu Kim Duc, recycled materials not only save cost but also help stimulate creativity and the participation of the community in mobilizing raw materials and painting. In addition, using recycled materials for the playground also creates an atmosphere of friendliness, helping children become more aware of environmental protection issues.

However, architect Kim Duc said that not all recycled materials can be used. In order to make playgrounds, TPG members have to spend a lot of time researching and handling materials to ensure both safety and durability.

With the motto of bringing things the community really needs, TPG always meets the community and learns about the cultural history associated with the area before assembling ideas. "This will bring more value to the project and increase the connection and ownership of the community with that space" - architect Kim Duc shared.

TPG's training project for residential communities to build playgrounds was awarded first prize in the competition 'Raising Awareness on Green City Solutions in Vietnam' organised by the Embassy of Denmark in 2017. In 2018, the outside playground in Ha Lo village, Dong Anh district, constructed by TPG received Third Prize from UNESCO Vietnam in the art of recycling. These are the motivations for TPG to continue its efforts and persistently dedicate itself to the journey of building playgrounds and improving friendly public spaces for children in urban areas in Vietnam.

Hanoi targets cultural and MICE tourism  

Hanoi has welcomed visitors again as the situation of Covid-19 pandemic is controlled and the task of developing the city as an attractive destination has been back on track.

Hanoi tourism sector is working to change the perception that many tourists have seen it as a stopover to visit other places in the northern region.

Cultural tourism has been regarded as the strength of the capital's tourism for a long time. However, it only includes historical and cultural destinations. There are not many cultural and touristic activities and events to honor and promote this advantage.

Hanoi once hosted  events such as flower festival, Hanoi’s trade village festival, ao dai (traditional dress) festival, and so on, but since very long, those events have not been organized.

Recently, several cultural events organized by Hanoi have impressed people such as blossom cherry festival or contemporary folk and cultural heritage festival. But these events are of small scale. Moreover, the blossom cherry festival is also held elsewhere so it is not Hanoi’s own mark.

It is the fact that cultural events are one of the important factors that stimulate tourists to visit and experience. Localities that organize unique cultural and touristic activities usually attract more visitors.

For example, the buckwheat flower festival in Ha Giang Northern province, the “Flying on the golden season” paragliding festival in Yen Bai Northern province, Danang International Fireworks Festival, Hue Festival, among others that have been held annually, drawing a large number of visitors to the place. 

Thereby, the image of the destination has been known more, creating opportunities to attract visitors not only for events but also all year round.

Mr. Truong Quoc Hung, Chairman of the UNESCO Hanoi Travel Club suggested that each month, Hanoi city should organize an event. Hanoi must become the meeting place of the provinces and cities in the country, attracting visitors to the capital.

Hanoi has many three-to five-star world leading brands of accommodation, capable of hosting both local and international events.

In particular, Hanoi also has a number of large-scale conference centers, such as the National Conference Center and the International Conference Center, which can organize large events and seminars. With this advantage, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) tourism has long been offered in Hanoi.

It has not been a key tourism product of the city and there is a lack of the cooperation of relevant agencies to develop this advantage, according to Mr. Vu The Binh, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association.

Other places like Da Nang Central City, Phan Thiet Southern City have successfully invested in MICE tourism. When an international event, conference or seminar is held, the attendants come to Vietnam not only to know about the country, but they would become the messengers spreading the image of Vietnam to their family and friends at home. Therefore, Hanoi should focus on developing this type of tourism.

In fact, the Vietnam International Travel Fair (VITM), held annually in Hanoi, is an evidence of the attraction of MICE tourism. Every year, it welcomes tens of thousands of visitors from dozens of countries, both tour operators and clients

In addition, other international conferences and seminars on foreign affairs, investment, health, education taking place in Hanoi recently also attracted a large number of local and international agencies, organizations and enterprises.

Under the circumstances, Hanoi targets to develop MICE tourism as the typical product of the city. It will also invest to set up a number of key tourist clusters like Son Tay - Ba Vi, Huong Son - Quan Son, Soc mountain - Dong Quan lake, Van Tri - Co Loa.

The city will implement a number of cultural and entertaining tourism products as well as continue to research, innovate, and have many solutions to improve its image and service. When all of these projects are complete, Hanoi will become an appealing destination that keeps visitors longer.

NA inspection teams work with election committees of Thai Binh, Quang Tri

A National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee inspection and supervision team led by NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu, member of the National Election Council (NEC), examined the preparations for the upcoming general elections in the northern province of Thai Binh on March 19.

At a working session with the provincial Election Committee, Luu was reported that Thai Binh has set up three constituencies for the election of deputies to the 15th NA, 16 for the election of deputies to the provincial People’s Council, 64 for the district-level People’s Councils, and 1,781 for the councils at commune level.

As of March 14, the provincial Election Committee had received nominations of 13 candidates to the 15th NA, including one-self nominated candidate, along with 124 candidates to the provincial People’s Council, and 598 candidates to district-level People’s Councils, and 12,407 to the People’s Council at communal level.

The province held the second round of negotiations from March 21 to April 13, and plans to hold the third round before April 18. Election groups in communes, wards and townships will be set up by April 3, while the final list of voters will be made public before April 13.

Luu spoke highly of Thai Binh’s performance in preparing for the elections in line with guidance from the central level.

He reminded the province to work hard to ensure that the elections will take place in a democratic, equal, safe and economical manner in line with the law.

He also asked the locality to continue strengthening communications on the elections, which is slated for May 23.

Meanwhile, another supervision team led by NA Vice Chairman Phung Quoc Hien also held a working session with the central province of Quang Tri on the preparations for the elections.

At the event, Hien, a member of the NEC, lauded the efforts made by Quang Tri in the work, which meets the scheduled progress and relevant regulations.

He asked the province to build possible scenarios for timely settlement of any arising problem, while handling complaints and denunciations in line with the law, and focusing on communications on the events so that voters thoroughly understand their rights and obligations.

Quang Tri has completed the second negotiations on candidates to the 15th NA and People’s Councils at all levels. It expects to have six NA deputies, while the number of candidates so far is nine.

Meanwhile, the province has received nominations of 90 candidates who run for 50 seats at the provincial People’s Council. It has also seen 530 candidates to the People’s Councils at district level and 5,339 candidates to the People’s Councils at communal level./.

Russian oblast thanks Vietnamese student for saving children in accident

Hoang Phi Hung, a medical student of the Pskov State University of Russia, and a Russian citizen have received thank-you letters from the authorities of Pskov oblast for saving two children meeting accident on Velikaya River.

On March 15, while passing the bank of Velikaya River, Hung saw two children, one is 10 years old and the other is 11 years old, fell into the river due to the broken ice cover the surface of the river.

Hung and other people immediately jointly saved the children. With his medical knowledge, Hung managed to maintain their body temperature, thus saving their lives.

Earlier, Governor of Pskov Mikhail Vedernikov handed over a thank-you letter to Andrey Strugin who was the first person to detect the two victims and give them timely help.

Vietnam attends Asian Cultural Council’s second meeting

A delegation of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) attended the second meeting of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) - a subsidiary body of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), which was held virtually on March 19.

The delegation was led by Nguyen Manh Cuong, Vice Chairman of the CPV Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations, who is also a member of the ICAPP standing board.

At the meeting, Cuong shared the viewpoints and policies of the CPV on culture, underlining that culture is the spiritual foundation of the society and the goal, motivation and internal strength for national sustainable development.

The CPV aims to build a modern culture with strong national identity that is united in diversity, while boosting economic growth in line with cultural development, with great attention paid to the expansion of cultural industry and cultural services in association with the development of the cultural market, helping to preserve, maintain, promote and develop cultural values, cultural exchange and diversification.

Theme “Harnessing Culture and Innovation for Shared Prosperity during COVID-19 and Beyond,” the meeting gathered leaders of political parties, policy-makers from 25 political parties of 18 Asian countries and a number of international organisations under the United Nations.

Participants discussed the role of culture and solutions to optimise it in inspiring people’s creativity in all fields, contributing to sustainable growth.

They highlighted the significance of cooperation among political parties in promoting cultural collaboration and exchange, and expanding the culture-innovation networks and resources for the development of culture and the cultural industry.

The ACC was first launched in 2019 in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province. UNESCO formally recognises the “Asian Cultural Council” as a good cooperative partner in cultural affairs, and the two organisations have been working together on several projects including the study of Asian cultural policies in 2019 as a preparation for the meeting of ministers of culture in 2019./.

Vietnam congratulates Lao Party on 66th founding anniversary

Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Nguyen Ba Hung on March 19 headed a delegation to the headquarters of the Commission for External Relations of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Central Committee, on the occasion of the 66th founding anniversary of the Lao Party (March 22).

At the reception, head of the Lao Commission for External Relations Somdy Bounkhoun said the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the LPRP have shared an origin and a historical mission of leading people in the struggles for national liberation and the cause of national construction. He rejoiced at the developments of the cooperation and friendship between the two Parties, States, and peoples.

The Lao official described the Vietnamese side’s congratulations as a vivid demonstration of the solidarity and close ties between the two nations, and attributed Laos’ achievements to Vietnam’s whole-hearted support.

The Lao Party, State, and people will make all-out efforts to consolidate and tighten the great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between the two sides, he pledged.

Ambassador Hung expressed his belief that under the leadership of the LPRP, the Lao people will reap greater achievements in national construction and development.

He also affirmed that Vietnam has consistently preserved and cultivated the bilateral relationship.

Under the leadership of the CPV and the LPRP, the two countries will together overcome the challenges and reach their socio-economic development targets, he believed./.

Binh Duong: Promoting Vietnam-China investment ties

The People’s Committee of southern Binh Duong province, in coordination with Becamex IDC and the Chinese Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, organised an online workshop on March 19 to promote Chinese investment.

The workshop brought together about 80 Chinese investors and representatives from relevant departments and agencies in Binh Duong.

It provided investors with insights into the investment environment in Vietnam in general and Binh Duong in particular, while helping connect Vietnamese and Chinese businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Binh Duong currently has 1,515 projects worth over 8.8 billion USD, including 432 valued at 1.3 billion USD from mainland China, 845 worth 5.4 billion USD from Taiwan (China), 234 worth 2.1 billion USD from Hong Kong (China), and four worth nearly 41 million USD from Macau (China).

Projects mainly focus on processing and manufacturing, household utensil production, steel, and electronic components, among others.

Many Chinese investors at the workshop made proposals to the provincial People’s Committee regarding the minimum wage, the land fund for warehousing, and investment procedures.

Bui Minh Tri, head of the management board of industrial parks in Binh Duong, said the province is stepping up its investment attraction. It will reject, however, projects that cause environmental pollution, use many unskilled workers, and consume much energy.

Binh Duong encourages projects in high technology, supporting industries, and high-quality services, he emphasised.

Mai Hung Dung, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, pledged that Binh Duong will further press ahead with administrative reforms and facilitate investment.

Binh Duong has also focused resources on completing socio-economic infrastructure, expanding industrial parks, training human resources, and building housing for workers, he said.

The province hopes to receive more support from the Chinese Consulate General in HCM City, the China Construction Bank, and business associations in the two countries regarding investment attraction, he added.

Binh Duong’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) increased 6.91 percent last year and GRDP per capita stood at 150 million VND (6,500 USD). Its export revenue exceeded 27.43 billion USD and import value over 21.46 billion USD./.

Dak Lak: Anti-state activist gets imprisonment sentence

The People’s Court of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak on March 19 sentenced Tran Nguyen Chuan to six years and six months in prison for the charge of “attempting to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 109 of the 2015 Penal Code.

According to the indictment, in 2015, Chuan, born in 1967 and residing in Tan Tien ward, Buon Ma Thuot district of Dak Lak, regularly searched for contents related to the so-called “Chinh phu quoc gia Viet Nam lam thoi” (Provisional National Government of Vietnam) organisation which is headed by Dao Minh Quan on Youtube.

From June 2018 to March 2020, Chuan joined online meetings via Free Conferencecall (FCC) which were held by the “Chinh phu quoc gia Viet Nam lam thoi”. He also participated in organisations called “Quan luc Viet Nam cong hoa” (Republic of Vietnam’s armed forces) and “Lien doan hau due de III Viet Nam cong hoa” (League of third generation of the Republic of Vietnam).

On March 8, 2020, Chuan was promoted by the “Chinh phu quoc gia Viet Nam lam thoi” to the rank of Major in charge of office 3 of its general staff before being transferred to the position of assistant to the judicial military police command of this organisation.

Alongside, Chuan was active on the Internet by posting and sharing articles, links, live videos and videos on Youtube which incited people to join referendum and enter the “Chinh phu quoc gia Viet Nam lam thoi”. He also shared contents of parts of and the whole Constitution of the “Lien doan hau due de III Viet Nam cong hoa” on his Facbook account and posted links on the comment section. Chuan also distorted, defamed, slandered, and dispraised leaders of the Vietnamese Party and State in different periods, while popularising distorted contents of orientations and policies of the Party and the law of the State.

Chuan was arrested by the Investigation Security Agency under the Public Security Department of Dak Lak province on September 1, 2020 when his legal proceedings were also launched.

At the police office and the court, Chuan admitted his wrongdoings.

The jury of the court recognised that Chuan’s activities are extremely dangerous which harm the society and the unification in ideological platform led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, degrading people’s trust in the political institution of the State of Vietnam, and endangering the stability of the people’s administration, and violating the national security and social order and safety.

Chuan’s sentence was based on Clause 2, Article 109 of the 2015 Penal Code./.

Desalination plants on island district resume operations

Repairs to two plants turning sea water into fresh water on An Binh Island in Ly Son district of central Quang Ngai province have been completed, the Doosan Heavy Industries Vietnam Company (Doosan Vina) said on March 19.

The plants, each capable of filtering and desalinating seawater to produce 200 cubic metres of fresh water every day, serve over 100 households on the island.

Valued at nearly 20 billion VND (865,000 USD), they were first handed over to residents of An Binh in August 2012.

After eight years of operation, some of the components had broken, hindering local people’s access to fresh water, especially during the dry season from April to September.

A technical group from Doosan Vina was sent to inspect and repair the plants.

Their operation helps meet the islanders’ demand for fresh water, contributing to stabilising their lives.

An Binh Island is located 30 km off the coast of Quang Ngai province. The islanders had long suffered from water shortages and had to pay high prices to buy fresh water for daily use./.

Thai Nguyen focuses on socio-economic development in ethnic minority areas

Minister-Chairman of the Government’s Committee for Ethnic Affairs Do Van Chien held a working session on March 18 with authorities in the northern province of Thai Nguyen to review local activities for its ethnic minority population in the 2016-2020 period and set out tasks for the time to come.

According to a report delivered at the working session, during 2016-2020, the province had 19 out of 63 extremely disadvantaged communes meeting goals set by the national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction, with no localities in the province now living without electricity.

By the end of 2020, 73 out of 113 mountainous and ethnic minority-inhabited communes had fulfilled new-style rural standards.

Speaking at the working session, Chien lauded the outcomes, particularly the significant progress in poverty reduction in mountainous and ethnic minority-populated areas.

Highlighting the Party and State’s attention to these areas in recent years and in the 2021-2030 period, the official said major investment will come and present a good opportunity for Thai Nguyen to promote its scientific research and technology transfer, create sustainable livelihoods, and provide human resources training for ethnic minorities.

Thai Nguyen is home to 45 ethnic minority groups./.

Seminar marks 50th anniversary of Road 9 - Southern Laos victory

A scientific seminar was held in Dong Ha city in the central province of Quang Tri on March 19 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory of the Road 9 - Southern Laos campaign.

In his opening address, Deputy Minister of National Defence, Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyen Tan Cuong, who is also head of the steering committee for the event, said the Road 9 - Southern Laos victory in March 1971 marked the growth of the Vietnamese army in large-scale joint combat, becoming a vivid manifestation of the special combat solidarity between the Vietnamese and Lao armies and people.

Over 80 reports from experts and scholars highlighted the victory as an eminent success of the leadership and direction of the Party Central Committee and the Politburo in the war, and a vivid manifestation of the special combat alliance between the Vietnamese and Lao armies and people.

 Deputy Minister of National Defence, Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyen Tan Cuong speaks at the event (Photo: VNA)
Commenting on the role of the victory in the resistance war and economic development at present, member of the Party Central Committee and Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Le Quang Tung stressed that, over the past five decades, the value of the victory has always been in the hearts of residents in Quang Tri and those at home and abroad. At present, the military advantage of Road 9 has been tapped by the Governments of Vietnam, Laos and the Greater Mekong Sub-region for the sake of socio-economic development.

The event afforded a chance for the entire Party, people and army to review the heroic fighting tradition of the nation, contributing to nurturing patriotism and the spirit of self-reliance among young Vietnamese today and subsequent generations./.

Top legislator works with Kien Giang on election preparations

National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan has required the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang to arrange forces to keep a close watch on border trails and crossings, in a bid to maintain security, order, and safety and curb the spread of COVID-19, especially before and during the upcoming elections.

The top legislator made the call during a meeting with the provincial steering committee for elections while on a working trip to the province on March 18 and 19.

Ngan, who is also head of the National Election Council, spoke highly of Kien Giang’s efforts in the dissemination of election documents and implementation at the grassroots level.

At present, election committees have been set up at all levels in Kien Giang, including one at provincial level, 15 at the district level and 144 at the communal level, and the province is carrying out related tasks in accordance with schedule.

Dossiers of all candidates for the upcoming election of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure have been transferred to competent agencies. The province will elect eight deputies to the 15th NA.

The NA Chairwoman said communication campaigns must be bolstered to raise public awareness about the elections, and conferences collecting constituents’ opinions on nominated candidates need to be held in a fair, open, and democratic manner.

Ngan said that the National Election Council will consider and respond in written form regarding requests from the province on holding early elections in remote islands like Tho Chu.

On the morning of March 19, a delegation led by the NA Chairwoman joined a working session with the steering committee for elections of the province’s Ha Tien city.

It also inspected COVID-19 preventive measures and visited officers and soldiers at the Ha Tien international border post./.

Exhibition spotlights friendship of Vietnamese, Lao public security forces

An exhibition highlighting the friendship between the public security forces of Vietnam and Laos opened in Hanoi on March 19.

The exhibition features more than 300 photos and objects providing an overview of the 60-year development of Laos’ public security force and the solidarity and effective cooperation between the forces of the two countries throughout history.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Tan Toi said the exhibition is intended to mark 60 years since the Lao public security force was established on April 5, 1961, and when the first Vietnamese public security specialists were sent to the neighbouring country, on March 22, 1961.

He emphasised that the special Vietnam-Laos relationship is a rare example of close-knit, faithful, pure, and fruitful links between two peoples and two States, including their public security forces.

Braving numerous challenges and hardships, those glorious and proud ties have been expressed in various fields, especially defence and security, he said, noting that the cooperation and mutual support in security have helped firmly safeguard the countries’ revolutionary achievements, enhance the strength of their defence and security, defeat plots of sabotage and other ruses by hostile forces, and protect political security and social order and safety, thereby helping to stabilise the regional and global situation.

Toi held that the mutual cooperation, trust, and assistance between the two public security forces can also be seen in Vietnamese specialists’ connections with and wholehearted support for the public security officers of Laos over the last six decades.

Not only meant to celebrate the anniversaries and honour the forces’ contribution to their countries, the exhibition is also to help educate the younger generation about revolutionary traditions and intensify relations between the Vietnamese and Lao forces as well as the two Parties and two peoples./.

Vietnam to ensure “safety first” with “COVID-19 vaccine passport” scheme

Standing members of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control have discussed the preparation of technical and policy solutions to implement the “COVID-19 vaccine passport” scheme while ensuring the principle of “safety first”.

Addressing the March 19 meeting, Deputy Director of the Medical Solution Center at the Viettel Business Solutions Corporation Luu The Anh, said Viettel is closely coordinating with the Ministry of Health and related ministries and sectors to review and carry out the “COVID-19 vaccine passport” scheme.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that from the perspective of the health sector, the “COVID-19 vaccine passport” is essentially a certificate confirming the holder has had two shots of COVID-19 vaccine, regulated in line with the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases and international health quarantine regulations. Passport holders will not be quarantined and tested for COVID-19, but some other countries still require testing.

Vietnam is working with countries around the world on the acceptance of the passport through QR codes.

To get the “COVID-19 vaccine passport”, people will provide their personal information when receiving a vaccination, which is checked on a validation system. After two injections, the relevant information is confirmed by a QR code. When going abroad, people’s information will be verified when scanning the QR code.

The Ministry of Health and Viettel are piloting the passport scheme at COVID-19 vaccination centres, to evaluate the capacity and compatibility of these facilities.

Meanwhile, relevant technical infrastructure to receive foreign visitors with COVID-19 vaccine passport is expected to be completed and ready for use from April.

The Ministry of Health continues to work with foreign health agencies to shortly participate in a joint effort of the international community to facilitate trade activities and travel for those who have been vaccinated.

According to the ministry, as of 11am on March 19, nearly 122 million COVID-19 infections had been reported worldwide, with more than 2.69 million fatalities in 221 countries and territories./.

Int'l experts discuss solutions to improve sustainability of health sector

Local and international health policymakers and experts from health management agencies, research institutes and service providers have discussed solutions to strengthen Vietnam’s health system sustainability and resilience at a workshop.

The March 17 workshop was part of the Global Summit of the Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience. It was coorganised by AstraZeneca Vietnam and the Health Strategy and Policy Institute (HSPI).

HSPI researchers presented their newly published a report on the sustainability and resilience of the Vietnamese health system, with crucial policy recommendations to enhance benefits for Vietnamese people.

Dr. Tran Van Thuan, Vice Minister of Health, said via a video message: “Vietnam has worked tirelessly to enhance its health system, aiming towards equality, efficiency, quality and sustainability, and meeting the people’s healthcare needs.”

“However, the health system is facing many challenges with the double burden of diseases and an aging population,” Thuan added.

“It needs to be continuously improved to ensure its sustainable development and ability to respond to future difficulties and challenges."

Nitin Kapoor, chairman and general director of AstraZeneca Vietnam, said: “We hope the Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience (PHSSR) will provide a platform to both highlight Vietnam’s best practice in COVID-19 response to the world, and allow the Vietnamese health system to look within and identify room for further enhancements.”

Dr. Tran Thi Mai Oanh, director of HSPI and PHSSR Vietnam lead researcher, said: “We are pleased to be among the first countries in the world to pioneer the London School of Economics’ new framework on health system sustainability and resilience.”

“It is our hope that our evidence-based report will provide a deeper and more comprehensive view of Vietnam’s health system according to the five domains: governance, financing, workforce, medicines and technology, and service delivery, and that our proposed solutions will inform upcoming high-level health policy discussions and agendas to create meaningful changes.”

Prof. Alistair McGuire, London School of Economics, joining virtually from the UK, emphasised the important role that Vietnam plays in the global PHSSR initiative, and hoped that the project could soon be expanded to other Asian countries.

During the summit session, Swedish Ambassador Ann Måwe and British Deputy Ambassador Marcus Winsley emphasised the vital role of cross-border cooperation during COVID-19 and beyond. Other speakers echoed and contributed to the HSPI’s recommendations to continue prioritising grassroots healthcare development and primary healthcare, and initiatives to achieve universal health coverage and increase public participation in health policy development and monitoring./.

Hanoi leader welcomes US, RoK ambassadors

Vice Secretary of the Party Committee of Hanoi and Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh on March 19 received US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

During the meeting, Anh highlighted the Vietnam – US relationship, and expressed his joy at the flourishing relations between Hanoi and US localities.

For his part, Kritenbrink affirmed that the US pledges to become a close partner with Vietnam, as well as cooperate with Hanoi in many fields.

He informed that the US’s Peace Corps programme in Vietnam will be implemented in the time to come.

The same day, the Hanoi leader also hosted a reception for Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (RoK) to Vietnam Park Noh-wan, during which the two sides discussed how to promote the bilateral cooperation.

The RoK diplomat proposed organizing a dialogue between the municipal authorities and RoK enterprises to seek measures for further fostering cooperation.

Agreeing with the proposal, Anh said he hopes the ambassador will give his support for creating links between the two sides’ enterprises and for the sharing of experience and transfer of technologies in the areas that Hanoi is interested in such as urban transport, environmental protection and water resources management.

The Hanoi leader appreciated the RoK’s support for Hanoi in building smart cities, and assigned relevant agencies to continue coordinating with the RoK side in the field in the time to come.

Hanoi will focus on accelerating administrative reform, removing difficulties, and creating favourable conditions for foreign enteprises, including those from the RoK, to expand invest in the capital city, he said./.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes