Last update 7/30/2011 1:27:19 PM (GMT+7)

Vietnam Airlines to cancel 6 flights due to storm

Due to impacts of tropical storm Nock-Ten, Vietnam Airlines has canceled six domestic flights today, June 30.

They are flights VN1711 and VN1713 from Hanoi to Vinh; VN1710 and VN1712 from Vinh to Hanoi; VN1266 from Ho Chi Minh City to Vinh; and VN1267 from Vinh to HCMC.

Meanwhile, the duration of a number of flights from the South to Hanoi and Hai Phong are expected to last 15-20 minutes longer than usual, the airliner said.

As of 6 pm yesterday evening, all the airliner’s flights had proceeded normally and safely, the firm added.

HCMC officials blame drinking, street quality on surging road accidents  

The road traffic situation in Ho Chi Minh City is getting worse this year despite stricter punishments on traffic violations, statistics from the city government have revealed.  

Drinking and poor street quality have been blamed among causes for the fatal problem.

According to the city figures, the number of traffic accidents as well as that of the deaths and injuries involved have both increased year on year in all districts, except for Districts 4, 12, Thu Duc and Hoc Mon in the outskirts.

However, Districts 12 and Thu Duc are still two of the three that have the highest number of traffic accidents in the city, besides Binh Tan District.

The city has reported a total of 495 traffic accidents since the beginning of this year, which killed 421 people and left 262 others injured, statistics showed.

The figures were two more cases, eight more deaths and 71 more injured people compared to the same period last year.

Ngo Minh Chau, deputy director of the city police, said that officers of the agency have worked hard to reduce the number of traffic accidents at certain points during the year but the situation just got worse during festivals and holidays.

Most the accidents occurred between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. the next morning, usually in the weekend, Chau said.

Figures from the city hospitals also revealed high fatality caused by road accidents.

Doctor Tran Minh Khiem from Cho Ray Hospital said that the hospital has admitted more than 12,800 emergency cases this year and more than 24 percent of them were traffic victims with 551 people killed.

Blood tests showed 181 of the traffic accident cases hospitalized were caused by high alcohol content.

Kham said some people were still badly drunk when admitted to the hospital.

A traffic police officer from District 7 also said that drinking has caused a sharp increase of traffic accidents in the city outskirts.

Meanwhile, around 150 of the cases at Cho Ray hospital this year were caused by underage driving and nearly 340 cases happened when the drivers did not wear a helmet.

City officials also point at poor quality of streets as another factor.

Nguyen Van Truong, vice chairman of Binh Chanh District People’s Committee, said that 72 traffic accidents have occurred in the district this year, killing 71 people and injured 22 others.

Truong said most of the accidents occurred on streets that were under construction and gave little space to motorbikes, the most popular means of transport in the city.

In some cases, the number of accidents increased according to the operation of new streets, which are long, wide but deserted.

Since Rung Sac Street in Can Gio District was open to traffic early this year, the number of people killed by traffic accidents has jumped by 75 percent and the number of injured by 160 percent.

Meanwhile on National Highway 1A, many traffic accidents have been caused as big vehicles ran on the same lanes with motorbikes.

One of such cases happened in February. Two people on a motorbike fell down on the street after a collision with a tricycle, only to have their legs crashed badly by a truck.

Hai Phong factory fire kills 13, injures 25

13 workers were dead and 25 others injured after a huge fire hit a Chinese-owned footwear factory in Hai Phong northern city at 4:00 pm Friday.

Police said after preliminary investigations that the factory located in Dai Hoang hamlet, Tan Dan commune of An Lao district covering an area of 70m2 didn’t have a back door while its main door had been blocked.

Nearly 50 workers inside therefore couldn’t escape.

There had been several unsuccessful attempts to rescue the victims because a big wall hindered the rescue.

However, 15 minutes later, the wall was broken down and some victims were rushed to hospitals.

Firefighters arrived on the scene 20 minutes later to extinguish the fire, which was put down at 5:00 pm the same day.

According to local police, 13 workers were burnt to death and 14 others are suffering severe injuries, who are undergoing emergency treatment at Viet Tiep Hospital.

Meanwhile, 10 other workers were reportedly taken to some hospitals in the city for treatment.

Among the perished is a pregnant woman.

Local residents said an electric circuit may be the cause of the fire.

The house was rented by a Chinese man to manufacture footwear products. The owners of  the house are Nguyen Van Lanh and his wife Hoang Dinh Su.

At 9:00 pm, the city’s People’s Committee held an emergency meeting to investigate into the fire.

Police officially identified a spark from electric wielding as the cause of the fire.

Police have also detained 6 people involved in the accident including couple A Phong and Bui Thi Hien, couple Bui Duc Lang and Bui Thi Su, Le Van Bay and his brother-in-law Linh.

All of them have been charged with violating safety regulations.

Local authorities have given VND10 million to each family of the dead victims and VND3 million to the injured.

8 injured as bus tumbles into 20m-deep pit

Eight passengers on board a 45-seat bus were injured after the vehicle was hit by another bus and then fell down a 25m-deep pit in Ca mountain pass in the Phu Yen central province on Friday morning.

The bus driver Trang Van Vuon, 35, told police that when he reached km1363+900 on the national highway 1A located in the Ca mountain pass, he had to stop the vehicle on the left lane to fix a problem in the engine.

However, another bus coming from the opposite direction clambered down and accidentally slammed into Vuon’s bus so hardly that the vehicle tumbled into a deep pit nearby.

The accident left passenger 40-year-old Tran Van Hien’s legs broken and caused another victim Le Thi Kim Lien, 37, to suffer head injuries, who are undergoing treatment at the Phu Yen General Hospital.

Other passengers reportedly suffered only minor wounds.

Buddhist monk steals bike to take girlfriend out

Expelled earlier for allegedly stealing a motorbike, 19-year-old monk Nguyen Thanh Lich from Binh Dinh province struck again, this time taking an expensive Honda SH motorbike on June 26 to take his girlfriend out on a date.

The bike, which belongs to 45-year-old Dang Vinh Quang, was parked in front of an Internet café on Le Hong Phong Street.

On seeing a key left on the bike, the monk from a pagoda in Nho Ly district, Quy Nhon City grew greedy and took Quang’s bike away. He also put colorful stickers on to change the bike’s appearance and installed a fake license plate.

The sinful monk then used the stolen vehicle to take his girlfriend on a date.

On July 13, Lich was riding the bike to a café when he was discovered and seized by local police.

At the police station, Lich pretended to ask for permission to go out to have vegetarian food. But he fled to a pagoda in Tuy Phuoc district, some 20 kilometers away from Quy Nhon City.

On July 18, he was arrested again.

At the investigation office, Lich confessed he was expelled from Nguyen Thieu Pagoda at the beginning of 2011 for stealing a Nouvo motorbike from a visitor.

Later, Lich was stopped by police due to traffic violations and had this stolen bike confiscated. It is still being impounded at the police station.

Japan funds road building for Ha Tinh province  

The Embassy of Japan in Vietnam has provided US$95,727 for upgrading the road of Cam Quan commune in the central province of Ha Tinh.

Yasuaki Tanizaki, Ambassador of Japan to Viet Nam, handed over the money as part of the Grassroots and Human Security Projects to Bui Quang Tan, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Cam Quan Commune at a ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam on July 28.

As most of inter-communal roads of Cam Quan commune are unpaved earth roads. During rainy seasons, holes occur and the road become muddy, affecting the transportation of people and products, even preventing pupils from going to school, which is a big constraint to the socio-economic development. The amount will be used for paving the most damaged road connecting the village No.13, No.15, No.16.

Mr. Mizuki hoped the project would help improve the transportation condition in Cam Quan commune remarkably, and the friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and Vietnam will be further deepened.

HCMC increases classrooms for next academic year  

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training held a meeting yesterday to assess the school academic year 2010-2011 and also introduce an additional 1, 095 classrooms for the next session.  

VND3, 700 billion (approx. US$176.2 million) has been invested in renovating or constructing 1,095 new classrooms to cope with the demand in the next academic term.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Nghia, Deputy Secretary of the city Party Committee Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, HCMC People's Committee Chairman Le Hoang Quan, HCMC People's Committee Deputy Chairman Hua Ngoc Thuan were present at the meeting. They were unanimous in their decision to implement compulsory education at the age of 5 in all the city’s 24 districts.

Le Hong Son, Director of the Department, announced that in previous school years, all schools in the city supported the motto ‘Friendly School – Active Students’ and implemented innovative programs such as useful learning methods, green and clean schools, efficient teaching and life skills training for young people.

Son added that the city was proud of having conducted the last examinations efficiently, with 97 percent students graduating from high school, 19.83 percent of who received distinctions. Nonetheless, additional facilities are constantly required to keep pace with the high demand for education.
Technology fans network at RMIT University  

Almost 600 people participated in the technology event BarCamp Saigon, a network of user-generated conferences, at the Saigon South campus of RMIT International University Vietnam on July 24.

The attendees included students, professionals, information technology enthusiasts, corporate sponsors, employers, recruiters and educators from Vietnam and other countries.

More than 60 workshops ran during the event – the fourth edition since RMIT Vietnam first hosted it in 2008.

Among them was “Making money with your Android Applications”, presented by the university’s IT student Thai Ly Cuong. Another RMIT student ran the topic “Long-polling to build real-time web applications”.

Meanwhile, a presentation by Fredi Schmidli from SwissITBridge introduced the Scrum methodology to fascinate project management.

The Swiss information technology firm has been providing internship jobs to RMIT Vietnam students.

Another workshop discussed how to make a good job application.

RMIT Vietnam’s Head of Centre of Technology, Professor Serge Demidenko, said, “For the last three years, BarCamp has been a wonderful networking event for our students, especially for students from the Bachelor of IT program, and provided the opportunity to stay in touch with the latest trends in the technology industry.”
WHO vows to reduce hepatitis infection rates in Vietnam  

The World Health Organization (WHO) pledged to focus on nine countries in the Western Pacific Region including Cambodia, Kiribati, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Vietnam facing significant challenges in meeting the 2012 target to reduce hepatitis B infection rates among children.   
The 28th of July marks the first ever World Hepatitis Day. At the World Health Assembly in 2010, countries unanimously adopted a resolution calling for concerted action to address the viral hepatitis issue. July 28 was designated World Hepatitis Day, serving as an opportunity to promote specific actions towards preventing and controlling these viruses and the disease they cause. The theme of World Hepatitis Day in the Western Pacific Region is: "Knock down hepatitis B by 2012".

The Western Pacific Region has almost half the global cases of hepatitis B, while having only a third of the world's population. Countries in the region have committed to reducing hepatitis B infection rates in children to less than 2 percent by 2012 and to less than 1 percent as a future goal. Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said reaching the target is crucial and do-able.
"Focused, concerted action is essential, especially in the countries in the Region that continue to suffer from high rates of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus," he said.

While most countries in the region have reduced hepatitis B infection rates in children to less than 2 percent, the nine are not yet there, mainly because of low vaccination coverage. In many of these countries, a major cause of low vaccination rates is the high number of births that occur at home without skilled birth attendants, making it difficult to deliver vaccines and other care services.

In Vietnam hepatitis B infection is present in 10 percent to 20 percent of the general population and is the cause of up to more than 80 percent of liver disease and cancers in the country. Co-infection rates amongst people living with HIV are also around 10 percent.

In 2003, Vietnam put in place a universal, infant hepatitis B vaccination program that increased coverage to 94 percent. Hepatitis B vaccination within 24 hours of birth reached more than 60 percent of newborns by 2005.

However, due to cases of unrelated death after immunization in 2006, many doctors in hospitals stopped birth dose vaccination and coverage dropped down to  around 20 percent. Vietnam's Ministry of Health has since made concerted efforts to increase the administration of birth dose vaccination and coverage is slowly recovering.

Chronic hepatitis B can be treated with drugs, including interferon and anti-viral agents. Treatment can be very expensive and access is limited in developing countries.Hepatitis C is also a contagious viral infection of the liver, but for which no vaccine has yet been developed. Hepatitis C infections are found worldwide with some 130-170 million people chronically infected.

Hepatitis C in Vietnam is a growing concern. People who inject drugs have especially high prevalence of hepatitis C infection, with up to 98.5 percent of them infected with the virus in Vietnam.

Reducing the risk of infection with hepatitis C requires avoiding unsafe injections and unscreened blood products. Improved infection control in health care settings and blood transfusion practice, and harm reduction programs for HIV prevention such as needle, syringe and condom distribution, are also critical to preventing transmission of hepatitis B and C.

Combination therapy with the medications interferon and ribaviron remains the mainstay of hepatitis C treatment, but they are costly and not yet widely available in Vietnam. However, in Vietnam a generic, lower-cost version of the drug, peginterferonalfa 2a, has recently been produced.

Furthermore, scientific advances and intense research are leading to the development of many new oral anti-viral drugs for hepatitis C infection. However, much still needs to be done to ensure that these advances can be accessible in limited resource settings.

Japan, US support infrastructure projects in Vietnam

Japan and the US have agreed to provide aid for infrastructure development projects in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries according to public-private partnership (PPP) method.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will cooperate with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to assist all phases of the infrastructure development projects in Southeast Asia, from planning to designing, purchasing, construction and management.

JICA and USAID plan to carry out the first cooperative project in Vietnam and submit to the Vietnamese Government a plan to establish an investment fund in 2012.

JICA will set up a fund worth US$400 - 500 million in March 2012 to support PPP projects. USAID will guarantee 50 percent of loans for projects which use capital from the fund and seek cooperation from financial organizations in Vietnam and the US.

Potential projects under the framework of the cooperative strategy between the two agencies include power plants, energy establishment, information and telecommunications, roads, and transport, and water supply and drainage systems.

JICA and USAID will also help other countries in the region, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia.
Medical care offers little to smile about  

The Vietnamese are shunning poorly equipped and overcrowded hospitals in Vietnam to travel to nearby countries such as Singapore, Thailand and the Republic of Korea – despite the huge cost involved.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien recently said that on average, Vietnamese spend US$1 billion a year to be treated in Singapore alone. Tien said people were opting to receive medical attention abroad not just because facilities were better, but because the service was far superior to that available in Vietnam.

Their hospitals were well marketed and the service was excellent, she said. Medical staff actually looked like they cared for their patients, unlike here, Tien said.

Nguyen Xuan Duong, 65, who lives in Hanoi's Dong Da District, said that when he first went to a hospital in Singapore, he thought that he was staying in a palace.

"The hospital's foyer was enormous. There were numerous luxurious sofas and ornamental trees and the fragrance of freshly ground coffee was everywhere," he said. Rooms cost VND30-80 million (US$1,500-4,000) a night. For patients who opted not to share, they had their own doctor, Duong said.

"The quality of health care was good but not particularly exceptional. What stood out for me was that the doctors always smiled and were thoughtful when consulting with patients," he said.

Most Vietnamese travelling to Singapore are suffering from serious ailments, such as cancer. But others require only simply surgery that could easily be carried out back home.

"Four years ago, my grandson went to Singapore to have a circumcision. It cost 10 times more than it would have cost in Vietnam, but we wanted to ensure he got the best treatment," Duong said.

A smile and a gentle demeanor count for a great deal when you were worried, he added.

Meanwhile, Nghiem Van Vuong, deputy head of Thang Long Hospital's Medical Check-up Ward, said domestic public hospitals were often overcrowded, while doctors had to give health checks to at least 100 patients and treat at least 10 people a day.

"Doctors have too much work and are under too much pressure. How can they smile?" he said. Vuong added that it was a doctor's job to examine and treat a patient, not to be a marketing professional.

Former patients however also complain that facilities are also inferior in Vietnam. Vu Phuong Hanh, from Hanoi's Ba Dinh District, said that when she gave birth to her first baby two years ago in National Hospital for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, she was prepared to pay for her own room with an en suite bathroom.

"However, the hospital was too crowded and did not have enough room for us. In the end I ended up sharing a single bed with another woman and her baby," Hanh said. She said the room was also too hot and that her baby cried incessantly.

However, Hanh was luckier than most mothers who were forced to sleep on temporary folding beds in a hospital corridor even if they could afford the VND 500,000 (US$25) for a night in a good room.

"It was one of my worst experiences and I was determined to go to Singapore to have my second child despite the cost," she said.

To encourage more Vietnamese to seek medical attention at home, new state-of-the-art hospitals are being built here. Last year, work began on Hue Central Hospital – an international standard medical centre. It is scheduled for completion next year.

The hospital will be heavily marketed to Vietnamese. People coming to the hospital will not be patients, but customers. They will get the best and most attentive service, said Nguyen Duy Thanh, the hospital's deputy head.

Last February work began on a hospital in Hanoi which will occupy a 24.6 square-meter site. It has been likened to a five-star hotel. In May, work also began on the Hanoi Welfare Hospital in the capital's Tu Liem District.

The new international-standard hospitals being built in the country will hopefully encourage Vietnamese to trust once again in the standard of health care being offered here. Only time will tell.
Ministry suggests more detox centers  
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has proposed to the government to open more methadone detoxification centers in the country, as trial results of methadone use in Hanoi, the northern province of Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City have shown positive results.

Vietnam has used methadone for treating drug addicts for the last three years in nine provinces and cities, having at present 25 centers. 4,000 drugs addicts have successfully reduced their daily injection dosage as a result.

Their health has shown remarkable improvement and they have been able to find employment, subsequently staying out of further trouble.

The ministry now wants to open more centers in the northern provinces of Bac Kan, Bac Giang, Thai Binh, Hoa Binh, Cao Bang and Son La.

Augmentin drug with plasticizer recalled  

Health authorities have warned the National Institute of Drug Quality Control, hospitals and the GlaxoSmithKline Company in Vietnam against the antibacterial Augmentin drug after it was found to contain plasticizers.

Drug regulatory authorities in Hong Kong and Taiwan had ordered recall of the flavored pediatric formulas of the GlaxoSmithKline antibacterial Augmentin syrup (amoxicillin clavulanate) in June after it was found to contain traces of plasticizers.

This is the second instance of Hong Kong health authorities finding Di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), an additive used in making plastics more flexible, in the Augmentin drug.

Health authorities in Vietnam have ordered the National Institute of Drug Quality Control to take Augmentin samples from the markets for testing. They have also asked the manufacturers to provide a detailed report on the source of raw materials, packaging and manufacturing process to be submitted before August 5.

Augmentin tablet 375 mg is however unavailable in Vietnam since 2001 and GlaxoSmithKline has not imported the drug into Vietnam again.
Vn Airlines offers discount to overseas students
Vietnam Airlines is presently offering a 35 per cent discount on its flights to Europe for all Vietnamese overseas students.  
Vietnamese students studying in Europe can now purchase air tickets of VND 11,319,000 million (US$ 550) with free 40kg luggage allowance before August 6 or from September 1 to 30 on its flights from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City to Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Copenhagen (Denmark), Frankfurt (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Kiev (Ukraine), London (U.K.), Oslo (Norway), Prague (Czech), Stockholm (Sweden), Warsaw (Poland) and Zurich (Switzerland).

The fare price is applicable on a one-way ticket only which excludes taxes and additional fees. The ticket offer is also subject to change as per the exchange rate of the US dollar at the time of delivery.

Students must produce valid visas or other documents of proof of their study overseas.

Cop flirting with suspect’s wife to be fired

A demoted police official in Binh Duong Province is to be sacked for flirting with the wife of a theft suspect who later died in police custody in April this year.

The information was confirmed yesterday by Major General Vo Thanh Duc, director of the provincial Police Department.

The official in question is police captain Nguyen Thanh Phu Phu, an investigator of the province’s Thuan An town.

Phu was demoted to Captain from Major in May after being found to have flirted with Nguyen Thi Thanh Tuyen, the wife of Nguyen Cong Nhut, a suspect in the theft of over 6,600 car tires at Kumho Tire Co., Ltd., where Nhut had worked as a storekeeper.

Regarding his suggestive words to Tuyen, Phu said he was just joking. However, Major General Duc said it was unacceptable for a police officer to “joke” like that.

According to case file, Nhut, 30, was found hanging dead at the Ben Cat police office on April 25 after 4 days in custody there pending investigation into the theft.

Tuyen told police that while Nhut was being detained, Phu called her many times and suggested sex with her at a hotel.

Phu also said Tuyen’s husband, Nhat, was asking for help with the investigation. Feeling suspicious, Tuyen recorded their conversations.

On April 26, one day after Nhut died, Tuyen provided police with two tapes recording the conversations with Phu.

Regarding Nhut’s death, the Binh Duong Province Health Department’s Forensic Examination Center, after conducting an autopsy, in early May confirmed that Nhut hanged himself and there was no foul play.

However, Tuyen maintained her husband was killed. She and Nhut’s family have requested a fresh investigation.

To date, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the provincial Police Department have yet to officially announce the cause of Nhut’s death.

Ex-South Vietnam leader mourned in Malaysia

Family and friends shed tears Friday at the funeral of the former South Vietnam prime minister Nguyen Cao Ky, who died in Malaysia a week ago aged 80.

Ky, a career soldier, was the commander of the South Vietnamese air force before he entered politics and served as premier from 1965 to 1967 - a violent and uncertain period which saw US military involvement heighten in the country.

He received a rousing send off led by a band and three Buddhist monks who delivered devotional chants while family members dressed in black but wearing white headbands walked behind the hearse holding umbrellas in the pouring rain at a memorial centre just outside Kuala Lumpur.

Daughter Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen told AFP that the last dream of her father, known for his colourful personality and dress and who died on July 23, was to help needy students learn English.

"He was running an international school in Malaysia and his last wish was to provide a scholarship for all nationalities to study English," she said after a two-hour ceremony.

Ky ruled South Vietnam for two years during the Vietnam war. After 1967, he became vice-president until his retirement from politics in 1971.

An AFP photographer at the memorial service said many mourners were crying during the ceremony which was attended by about 40 people including the former leader's children, wife and grandchildren.

Ky's wife Le Kim Nicole, who delivered a eulogy, was continuously wiping away tears. Family members had asked that the hall be decorated with fresh cut white roses and purple carnations, the firm managing the funeral told AFP.

A black and white portrait of Ky in military uniform during his younger days was placed near the casket, which was draped with flags of the the old South Vietnam, Malaysia and the United States, as he lay in a glass-covered coffin dressed in a white outfit and black bow tie.

Ky, who fled by piloting his helicopter to a US warship after the fall of Saigon, was cremated in Shah Alam, west of Kuala Lumpur, and his ashes were expected to be taken back to the United States by his children.