Ban on asbestos use in Vietnam is urgent

Ban on asbestos use in Vietnam is urgent: workshop

The Non-governmental Organisations-Information Centre (NGO-IC) held a workshop in Hanoi on November 27 to call for joining hands with Vietnamese agencies in a bid to draw a roadmap for the ban of white asbestos use in the country.

Nguyen Manh Hung from the Vietnam Standards and Consumer Protection Association said asbestos is a generic name given to a group of fibrous silicate materials which are now present in more than 3,000 products.

In Vietnam, white asbestos is mostly used in producing asbestos-cement (AC) roofing sheets. Forty-one roofing sheet facilities nationwide are able to turn out over 100 million sq.m. of AC roofing sheets a year, meeting 60 percent of the demand, primarily in rural and mountainous areas due to their low prices and high level of durability, he added.

Tran Anh Thanh from the Ministry of Health’s Health Environment Management Agency said asbestos is proved harmful to human health, and people are exposed to asbestos dust during production or use such as drilling, grinding, and mixing asbestos materials.

Asbestos may cause a number of lung diseases such as pneumoconioses and lung cancer, or oesophagus cancer and ovary cancer. As it takes 20-30 years for asbestos-caused diseases to develop, a majority of patients are of retirement ages, he noted.

Thanh said health insurance has covered asbestos-related diseases since 1976 in Vietnam, but the country has not had adequate resources to study and monitor such cases. Meanwhile, hospitals reported an increasing incidence of mesothelioma cancer, which commonly develops in the lungs of people exposed to asbestos.

The Ministry of Health urged the Government to take timely actions to stop the use of asbestos in order to protect the health of workers as well as consumers and the whole community.

It also asked the Ministry of Construction to help roofing sheet facilities to produce asbestos-free products and recommended the Ministry of Science and Technology to step up researches on alternatives and measures to safely dispose asbestos solid waste, he noted.

Dr Tran Tuan from the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network (Vn-BAN), which made debut at the workshop, cited a survey in two communes in northern Yen Bai and central Thanh Hoa provinces that 85 percent of households used AC roofing sheets, less than 5 percent of residents knew about asbestos’s adverse effects on health and environment, and almost none of them heard about the ban of asbestos use in the world.

Conference seeks to boost Vietnam-Hungary educational links

A conference of Vietnamese and Hungarian universities’ rectors was held in Hanoi on November 27, focusing on measures to foster links between the two countries in education and training.

Addressing the event, Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan stressed the important role of the education sector for sustainable development in each country, saying that Vietnam has built numerous policies to promote the sector’s development.

He spoke highly of assistance from countries and international communities to Vietnam, including Hungary. He described the two countries’ traditional friendship as a firm foundation for them to further expand all-around cooperation.

The minister expressed his hope that through the meeting, a number of orientations and plans will be outlined so as to accelerate the implementation of cooperation agreements between the two nations and their universities in particular.

Hungarian President Janos Ader, who is now on an official visit to Vietnam, said his country is willing to team up with Vietnam in the field of its strength such as medical, hydrology and science, and admit Vietnamese students to study at its universities.

The President noted that the Hungarian Government will double the number of its scholarships for Vietnamese students to study in the country to 100 in the time ahead.

At the conference, participants focused on sharing information on each side’ higher education system, policies and scholarships programmes provided by their governments.

The Vietnamese Ministry and the Hungarian side pledged to continue supporting relevant parties to implement their commitments and build bilateral and multilateral educational cooperation programmes.

On the occasion, Vietnamese and Hungarian universities held bilateral working sessions to seek measures to boost cooperation in the future.

Hungary’s Liszt Academy of Music and the Vietnam National Academy of Music signed a cooperation agreement on training and academy exchange.

Hospital found to commit irregularities in spending

After a periodic inspection trip to hospitals in the city, the HCMC Inspectorate discovered that Hung Vuong Hospital has collected and spent money irrationally over the past two years.

In 2012 and 2013, the healthcare center collected fees based on service prices although it did not get permission from competent agencies to do this.

The hospital earned over VND12 billion from medical services, mainly at the Ward of Medical Checkups and the Ward of Imaging Diagnostics. However, the hospital did not report the amount and did not pay corporate income tax.

Having randomly checked 400 files of patients who gave births via surgeries and required special services in 2012-2013, the inspectors realized that Hung Vuong Hospital collected an additional VND173 million from these patients.

In addition, cash from the hospital’s reward and welfare funds was used inappropriately. In 2013, Hung Vuong Hospital transferred a combined amount of VND34 billion from the funds to accounts payable to laborers, which is against regulations of the Government and the Ministry of Finance.

The HCMC Inspectorate, therefore, asked the hospital to refund all amount collected or paid irrationally, discipline relevant individuals and organizations, and report to the city government.

Terry Fox Run in town this Sunday

The 18th Annual Terry Fox Run will take place at Phu My Hung, District 7 of HCMC at 8 a.m. this Sunday.

The 5km run is organized by the Consulate General of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Vietnam (CanCham) and the HCMC Union of Friendship Organizations.

The Terry Fox Run is an annual non-competitive charity event held in numerous regions around the world in commemoration of Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox, and his Marathon of Hope.  Last year’s run in HCMC drew an incredible number of 15,500 participants, raising VND1.8 billion for cancer research, illustrating the rising awareness of people towards research and treatment of cancer.

The Terry Fox Run in HCMC supports local projects for cancer research. This includes previous support to projects for molecular pathology and a new project in oral cancer research and detection at the HCMC Oncology Hospital which was recently submitted for scientific review.

The Terry Fox Foundation continues to make great advances in its mission of raising money through annual, locally organized, volunteer driven runs.

To date, over US$650 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name and 1,152 cancer research projects have been funded by the foundation. The foundation recognizes the duality of its mandate. Not only does it raise money for research, but it also continues to share the story of Terry Fox. The Terry Fox Foundation strives to maintain the heroic effort and integrity that Terry embodied.

Vietnam Airlines offers low cost tickets

Vietnam Airlines announced to sell low cost tickets for some domestic flights. Accordingly, from now till December 7, customers can buy one trip tickets at a very special deal.

For instance, the ticket for route HCMC to Nha Trang will cost VND 399,000 or HCMC to Hue, Phu Quoc and Quy Nhon will have a cost of VND 499,000.

It will be VND 799,000 to route departing in HCMC to Dong Hoi and VND 999,000 for Vinh or VND 1.09million for Thanh Hoa, Hai Phong.

Low cost tickets are not included tax, fee and extra fee.

Storm Sinlaku likely to hit south-central Vietnam over weekend

After entering the East Sea on Friday morning, the depression that formed south of the Philippines has strengthened into a tropical storm and will likely hit south-central Vietnam late Saturday night, the Vietnamese national weather center has warned.

At 7 am on Friday, the storm, with the international name Sinlaku, was centered 350 km east-southeast of Song Tu Tay Island, part of the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, packing winds of 62-74 kph and gusts of up to 102 kph in areas near the storm’s eye, the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said.

The storm is now moving west-northwest at a speed of 25 kph and at 7 am on Saturday it will be about 300 km east of the coastal area between Binh Dinh and Khanh Hoa Provinces, with winds of up to 88 kph and squalls of 89-117 kph.

Due to Sinlaku the middle area of the East Sea, including the waters north of Truong Sa archipelago, will experience rough seas, winds of 62-88 kph and gusts of up to 117 kph from Friday morning.

During the next 24 hours, the storm will move in the same direction at a lower speed of 20 kph and make landfall on the central coast before weakening into a tropical depression, the center said.

At 7 am on Sunday, the storm will be located in the border area between Vietnam and Cambodia, with winds of less than 39 kph.

Due to the storm, the waters of the region between the central city of Da Nang and Ninh Thuan Province will be rough amid winds of 62-88 kph and squalls of up to 117 kph.

From the afternoon of Saturday, November 29, the region from the central province of Quang Ngai to the south-central province of Khanh Hoa will face winds of 74 kph and gusts of 102 kph.

From the night of November 29, heavy rains will affect the region from Da nang to Binh Thuan, and the Central Highlands area.

The Central Steering Board for Flood and Storm Prevention and Control on Thursday issued a message to its units in localities from the central city of Da Nang to the southernmost province of Ca Mau asking them to take all necessary measures to cope with the coming storm.

All vessels operating at sea should be kept well informed of the storm’s movements so that they can take safety measures in time, the board said.

The board also asked the ministries of Defense, Transport, Agriculture and Rural Development and Foreign Affairs, and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to prepare action plans ahead of the storm.

Football for Hope adidas exchange programme launched in Hue city

The Football for Hope adidas Exchange Programme commenced in the central city of Hue on November 26, with the participation of 16 non-governmental organisations from Asia and Australia (continent).

Launched in 2010 by FIFA and adidas group, the programme provides a platform for organisations active in social development through football to exchange and develop expertise and capacities vital for effective programme delivery and their overall operation.

The event in Vietnam this year, hosted by Football For All in Vietnam (FFAV), features a workshop on “Development through football in schools” and a coaching seminar using the Coerver coaching method.

Participants will also visit local social welfare centres and join disabled children in a football festival.

Over the past decade, the central province of Thua Thien-Hue has run a number of football events for children thanks to support from the FFAV, Pham Van Hai, a representative from the provincial Department of Education and Training said.

The province is now home to 140 football clubs, gathering more than 17,000 children, many of them from disadvantaged background.-

IRRI to help Vietnam raise rice value

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has offered assistance to Vietnam’s agriculture with the aim of modernising the country’s rice industry.

The proposal was made at a workshop on reforming the rice industry toward raising added value and sustainable development for building new rural areas, which was held by the Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and IRRI in Hanoi on November 26.

To help Vietnam’s agriculture fulfil its 2015 – 2020 target, IRRI will focus its assistance on hybridization of high quality rice varieties, commercializing the production of rice specialities to meet domestic and export demands and building Vietnam rice brand name.

IRRI will also focus on measures to reducing pre and post-harvest losses and losses caused by climate changes.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said the rapid and sustainable growth of the agricultural sector, particularly rice, creates a firm foundation for national comprehensive development. However, the agricultural sector faces a demanding task as its contribution to GDP dropped from 20% in 2010 to 19% in 2013. This requires the sector to overcome challenges to further contribute to national development.

Doanh added that IRRI assistance will also help rice farmers improve their income.

IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler suggested that Vietnam’s rice production sector should further renew its work to help rice farmers improve their lives.

Vietnam has exported rice to many countries in the world but its rice is not of high quality and not competitive. However, Zeigler hoped with its potential and IRRI support, Vietnam’s rice industry will further develop.

Helmets for Families Programme kicks off

The Helmets for Families Programme began yesterday in the Mekong Delta Province of Tra Vinh, where only 33 per cent of students use helmets.

The programme is carried out in five schools located along national and provincial roads with a high risk of traffic accidents.

It is organised by the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation in co-operation with the National Traffic Safety Committee, Ministry of Education and Training and financial support from Abbot, the global healthcare company.

Tra Vinh Province is one of 13 provinces that will receive targeted helmet use efforts as part of the Nation Action Plan on Child Helmet Use organised by the National Traffic Safety Committee.

Vietnam vows to promote rights of people with disabilities

Vietnam will work harder to fully realise the rights of people with disabilities that are prescribed in its Constitution, international conventions and programmes.

Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen made the remark at the Asia Pacific Disability Forum (APDF) which is underway in Hanoi on November 27-28.

Vietnam has been actively implementing the strategy reached at the first APDF in Incheon, the Republic of Korea, in 2012 as well as finalising the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Chuyen said.

With two plenary sessions, the forum creates a platform for disable people to share a range of topics from policy building, social welfare, and vocational training to societal integration and climate change impact.

A number of margin activities are organised such as a photo exhibition, a gala dinner and a walking tour of Hanoi in response to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3).

According to the United Nations, around 15 percent of the world’s population or 1 billion people live with disabilities.

Vietnam has more than 6.7 million people with disabilities, who constitute 8.7 percent of the population.  

Hanoi builds safe, friendly schools

Students and teachers from 20 junior and senior high schools in Hanoi gathered at a workshop on November 26 to share their opinions on how to build safe, accountable and child-friendly schools.

The event, as part of a three-year initiative which aims at protecting adolescent girls aged 11 – 18 from violence at school, was co-hosted by the non-governmental organisation Plan Vietnam and the municipal Department of Education and Training.

Coordinator of the project Trinh Thi Mai Anh said since 2013, the programme has been implemented at 20 secondary schools in Hanoi, equipping teachers and students with necessary knowledge, skills to improve gender equality and minimise violent behaviour.

A six-grade schoolgirl shared via the project, her school held a meaningful fair, enabling students to express their anti-violence messages through creative handmade products.

In a poll of 3,000 Hanoi’s students, 80 percent of the participants said they experienced gender-based violence at school at least once in their lifetime. Among those victims, 73 percent suffered from mental harassment, 41 percent were physically assaulted, and 19 percent got involved in sexual abuse cases.

The issues are attributable to remnants of a male chauvinist society and gender stereotype. Besides, weak management and protection for the victims from school’s administrative board, parents and media coverage also make the problem worse.

Experts mull over French model of public personnel management

The second annual conference on Vietnam’s public administration in Hanoi on November 26 drew attention to the French model of public personnel management, with domestic and foreign experts and managers taking part.

The French territorial administration system, with 5.6 million civil servants, is divided into four levels, including the State, the region, the department and the commune, said Secretary of the French Interior Ministry Cadiot Bertrand, who is also an expert of the Ecole National Administration School.

Their performance is assessed based on professional and managerial skills, networking ability, and the level of their responsibility for missions assigned, he added.

Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Nguyen Tien Dinh admitted shortcomings in the evaluation of Vietnamese officials and cadres, training curricula and salary.

He proposed public administrative agencies streamline their operations and organisations while attracting more talents to work in public services.

The event was hosted by the Institute of Research and Development under the Hanoi University of Home Affairs.

Deputy PM: innovation must benefit low-income people

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has underlined the need to enhance coordination and mobilise resources to promote innovative ideas targeting low-income earners.

Addressing a forum held by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in Hanoi on November 26, Dam said it is essential to turn innovative ideas into practical actions and useful products that benefit not only poor people but also the whole community.

Renovation should be a significant national task, with the involvement of the State, private enterprises and social community, he stressed.

Despite great achievements Vietnam has made during more than 20 years of renewal, the country remains poor compared to other ASEAN countries, he said, noting that it must work hard to build a national innovative system to catch up with regional nations.

Statistics show that Vietnam’s annual per capita income in 2013 reached 2,960 USD, equivalent to 3.5 percent, 7.3 percent and 18.6 percent of the figures of Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and Malaysia, respectively.

Last year, nearly 1.8 million poor households and almost 1.4 million near-poor families were recorded in the country, requiring greater efforts in eradicating hunger, reducing poverty, and improving living standard for people.

Therefore, renovation and creation are needed to be fostered in order to both benefit low-income people and create an impetus for the country’s economic growth and the realisation of sustainable poverty reduction target, Dam said.

He also called on sectors to join hands in building innovative and creative initiatives to create many products and jobs, thus contributing to fulfilling the country’s poverty reduction and economic growth goals.

Meanwhile, WB Country Director in Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa underscored the necessity to step up labour productivity in connection with poverty reduction based on the enhancement of innovative and creative capacity.

According to MPI Deputy Minister Dang Huy Dong, Vietnam has deployed many projects and programmes related to innovation such as the Vietnam Inclusive Innovation Project (VIIP), the Fostering Innovation through Research, Science and Technology (FIRST), the Vietnam Business Challenge Fund (VBCF), and the Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP). These involved many international organisations and received domestic and foreign assistance.

Rights of disabled not easy to realise

Viet Nam is one of many countries in the Asia Pacific region having trouble establishing the rights of people with disabilities, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said yesterday.

At the Asia and Pacific Disability Forum in Ha Noi, Chuyen said that projects providing assistance and life support to people with disabilities had showed positive results.

However, she said that while marked improvements had been noted, the realisation of disabled peoples' rights in the fields of education, employment and the media remained modest.

Chuyen said Viet Nam would participate fully in international and regional forums, such as the Asia and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, to establish concrete rights for the disabled. Viet Nam would also soon approve a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Chairman of the Asia Pacific Disability Forum, Kyung Seok Park, said people with disabilities in the Asia Pacific region still faced hurdles in the enjoyment of citizen rights, including discrimination.

The forum drew 500 domestic and international delegates from 42 countries and territories. The goal was to raise social awareness about the issue.

The two-day meeting will review progress made on the strategy set out at the first forum held in Incheon, Korea, in 2012.

Currently, there are 650 million people with disabilities in the Asia Pacific region. Viet Nam has about 6.7 million people, about 8.7 per cent of its population.

Ha Noi market watch department seizes smuggled goods

The Ha Noi market watch department's division 1 yesterday seized 1,140 electric-bike batteries and 7,000 motor bearings, worth VND500 million (US$23,800), in Long Bien district's Duc Giang commune.

The owner of the goods, named Tran Thi Diep, could not show the invoices and documents indicating the place of origin of the products to the market watch officials. She admitted that all the products were contraband that were meant to be sold to retail shops.

Division 1 officials shifted the seized products to their warehouse for further investigation.

According to Nguyen Dang Khoa, captain of division 1, the smuggling and trading of contraband are increasing during the last months of the year. Division 1 will enhance its operations to curb the transport of such products from the northern provinces to Ha Noi.

Eight fishermen saved after boat collision

Eight fishermen from Da Nang were rescued on Wednesday after their boat collided with a freighter off the coast of Da Nang.

The Binh Minh 136 freighter, on its way from Binh Dinh Province's Quy Nhon Port to Hon La Port in Quang Binh Province, collided the fishing boat off Da Nang's Son Cha Island.

The boat sank 2.4 nautical miles from the island, but crew members were rescued by the freighter and taken to shore yesterday morning.

Sai Gon customs seizes smuggled tobacco cases

The Sai Gon Port Customs Division yesterday seized a container that had 100,000 smuggled China-made tobacco cases, labelled as NISE and RGD.

According to the bill of lading of the container, the cargo had been sent from Selangor to the Tay Nam Import–Export Trading–Producing One-Member Limited Liability Company.

The case is being investigated further.

Pleiku Airport to suspend night flights

Pleiku Airport in the central Highlands province of Gia Lai will stop operating its night flights from December 1 for a year, head of Vietnam Airlines branch office in the province, Nguyen Dinh Hung said yesterday.

Hung said all night flights would be shifted to daytime while the airport works on upgrading its runways.

The airport hosts eight flights a day.

Businesses vow to ensure kids' rights

Representatives from the business community in Viet Nam yesterday vowed to protect children's rights by supporting their parents as caregivers and ensuring their safety in all business activities.

The delegates, who were attending a seminar hosted by UNICEF and its partners, agreed to 10 principals on respecting and supporting children's rights during an event called ZEROTalks.

They also agreed to promote youth employment and talent generation to maintain a motivated and skilled workforce.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF representative in Viet Nam, said that while Viet Nam had made impressive economic progress in recent years, it must ensure that its progress extended to its children.

ZEROTalks refers to a series of talks and seminars hosted by UNICEF Viet Nam for exploring ways the public and private sector can work together to ensure no child is left behind.

The talks are part of the Believe in Zero campaign, launched in Viet Nam in 2013, which aims to bring the number of children excluded from Viet Nam's recent economic growth down to zero.

About 100 children in Viet Nam die every day of preventable causes, and close to 70 per cent of Vietnamese children have experienced some form of violence, according to UNICEF estimates.

"We are here to take part in the ZEROTalks but this is not only about talking, it's time to take action for children," said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam in his opening remarks. "In addition to charitable giving, the business sector should incorporate the rights of children into its business strategies."


Hung Vuong Hospital, Terry Fox Run, Vietnam Airlines, Storm Sinlaku, IRRI, International Rice Research Institute