Social News Headlines 15/3

450 bridges to be built in rural areas nationwide

As many as 450 bridges will be built in rural areas of 32 northern, central and Central Highland provinces from now to 2020 under a project approved by the Prime Minister on March 12.

The bridges, to be built at a total cost of nearly VND324.9 billion (US$15.5 million) sourced from the State budget, will contribute to the socio-economic development of disadvantaged localities and the new-style rural area building programme.

Priority will be given to those spanning streams and canals that cross inter-village roads, or roads leading to communal centres, townships, schools and clinics.

Germany funds UXO clearance in Thua Thien-Hue

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs will support the central province of Thua Thien-Hue with EUR257,911 (US$359,940) to implement a project to clear unexploded ordnance (UXOs) in A Luoi district.

A cooperation document on the project has recently been signed by Tekimiti Gilbert, Head of the APOPO’s Mine Action Department and Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Cao.

In 2014, apart from clearing bombs and mines left over from wars in the district, the project will develop information management tools, build a bomb and mine database, and implement the Information Management System for Mine Action in the province.

In 2012, the German ministry funded a similar project in Thuy Duong ward, Huong Thuy township and Hong Bac commune, A Luoi district, which turned 69.9 hectares once contaminated by UXOs into farming land.

Chairman Cao said in the past years, along with UXO clearance projects, Germany has aided his province in educational training, heritage preservation, and disaster prevention and control.

The activities have made active contribution to the local socio-economic development and the friendship between Vietnam and Germany, he added.

Hanoi authorities conduct surprise inspection on bus service

The secretary of Hanoi's Party Committee, Pham Quang Nghi, conducted surprise check on the bus service in the city on March 12, however many people said his inspection was not effective.

The first destination on the trip was the repair service centre on 29 Lac Trung Street, where the maintenance services for hundreds of buses are carried out daily. On the first bus, Nghi had to stand during the trip because all the seats were taken during the morning rush hour. The secretary talked to a passenger on the bus who told him that she had been riding bus for 8 years and never had anything stolen or any other problems.

Nghi then visited the control centre of Hanoi Transport and Services Corporation (Transerco). According to Nguyen Thuy, head of the centre, they manage over 1,000 buses with modern technology to detect what buses in congested areas and whether buses is speed or run red lights.

The director of Transerco, Nguyen Phi Thuong, said, "Thanks to better management technology and methods, we've been able to overcome the recession. In 2013, the government had to give us VND750 billion in support, but the amount is down to VND689 billion this year." Thuong further said authorities of HCM City thought highly of their work, even though bus service in Hanoi ranks average in the region, according to the evaluation of Japan International Cooperation Agency. In May, the local Department of Transport will open five more routes.

At the centre, Nghi also said there are a huge crowds of people blocking the doors whenever the bus comes to a stop. "Driver's assistants often waste a lot of time asking for tickets so it would be useful if passengers hold up their tickets immediately when they step on board," he said.

Speaking about security on buses, major-general Tran Thuy, deputy head of police force in Hanoi, said compared to last year, the number of bus accidents decreased sharply and they have only recorded four cases. The police and Transerco are working together to prevent robberies.

Nghi said that many people, especially low-income earners, still depend on bus service, and the company needs to improve to meet diverse customer demands. Ticket prices are an important issue and need to be increased slowly and carefully. Moreover, bus service is reaching the saturation point and Vietnam needs to implement other means of public transit.

However, many readers of DTiNews commented that the secretary's trip was superficial and ineffective. Many commented suggesting that Nghi take another surprise trip and disguise himself as normal passenger to witness the more serious shortcomings of the service, especially speeding and the rude attitude of driver assistants.


Drug smugglers receive death sentences

The northern province of Bac Giang's People's Court yesterday handed down maximum penalties to convicted drug dealers.

Nguyen Thien Thiet, 59, from the northern province of Bac Ninh, and Bui Thi Thinh, 50, from the neighbouring province of Hai Duong, received death penalties, while Truong Trung Kien, 32, also from Hai Duong, was sentenced to life in prison.

Thiet and Thinh were found guilty of selling nearly 22.6kg of heroin worth $173,000 last year. Kien acted as the driver to transport the drugs from the northwestern province of Son La to the northern province of Lang Son.

Ben Tre left thirsty after saline intrusion

Massive underground salt-water intrusion has forced thousands of households in coastal areas of southern Ben Tre Province to buy fresh water for daily use.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, a resident in Thanh Phu Province's Thanh Hai Commune, said his family had to buy water during the dry season as salt intrusion had made well water unusable.

"We dug a well down 70 metres, but the water was still impure," he said. "We now have to buy about 200 litres of water a day".

Mai Thi Hong Ngoc, a resident in Binh Dai District's Dai Hoa Loc Commune, said her family bought water from the local waterworks for VND4,800 a cubic metre. However, supplies were only available three days a week.

"I usually buy water in tankers from local people who cart it in from wells containing pure water at a cost of VND80,000 ($3.80) a load," she said.

As many as 17 existing water treatment plants in three districts are able to produce up to 330 cubic metres of fresh water an hour, enough for about 30,000 households, or only 40 per cent of the population.

The remaining 60 per cent are using well water instead. And for those who live in salt-intrusion contaminated areas, they are paying for fresh water to be carted in at high cost.

Bui Thi Cuoi, owner of a clean well in Thanh Phu District's Thanh Hai Commune, said salt water intrusion lasted from December to May. During this time, she was able to sell between 60,000 and 10,000 litres a day.

In recent years, climate change has led to the slow infiltration of salt water from the East Sea into Ben Tre Province.

Pham Trung Tinh, deputy director of the provincial Centre for Clean Water and Rural Sanitation, said it was necessary to invest in building a system of sluices to prevent salt water from running into a reservoir in Ba Lai River in the province that supplies residents in three coastal districts.

HCMC to build more flyovers, pedestrian walkways

Ho Chi Minh City will build 13 additional flyovers and underground walkways for pedestrians in order to reduce traffic gridlocks, according to the Road Infrastructure Management and Development Office.

The city is looking to invest into building a flyover on Dien Bien Phu Road in District 3 in front of the Binh Dan Hospital and a flyover or walkway in front of Economic Law University in Linh Xuan Commune in Thu Duc District, according to the Economic Budgetary Committee of the People’s Council.

The total cost of these infrastructure upgrades will be VND120 billion (US$5.7 million) from now until 2015.

The city currently has six pedestrian flyovers including one in front of Tu Du Maternity Hospital in Cong Quynh Street in District 1, Nguyen Trai Street in District 5, Phan Thuc Duyen Street in Phu Nhuan District, No Trang Long Street in Binh Thanh District, Dien Bien Phu in Binh Thanh District, and one in front of Suoi Tien Park in Thu Duc District.

There is also one on Highway 1A in front of Linh Trung Export Processing Zone in Thu Duc District and one on Highway 1 in Binh Chanh District.

Public, private co-operation to ease overcrowding in hospitals

A public private partnership (PPP) model in the health sector is essential to optimise bed capacity in private hospitals, and ease overloading in public hospitals, medical officials have said.

Many private hospitals were equipped with modern technology and devices as well as qualified doctors and high standard services, yet most of them failed to operate at full capacity, Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, minister of health said at a conference held on Monday in HCM City.

Nearly 57 per cent of private hospitals are operating at a bed capacity of 60 per cent, according to the minister. Only 21 per cent of private hospitals have bed capacity of 60-85 per centghe.

On the contrary, many public hospitals are constantly operating at full capacity, with four to five patients lying on one bed. The bed capacity in Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City, for instance, reached 135 per cent last year. At the HCM City Oncology Hospital there were 560 inpatients per 160 beds.

Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the ministry's Department of Medical Examination and Treatment, said that the number of private hospitals has risen four times in ten years, from 40 in 2004 to 170 hospitals.

Private hospitals accounted for 11 per cent of the 1,200 hospitals nationwide.

The number of beds in private hospitals made up only 4.2 per cent of the total hospital beds while the number of patients that private hospitals received every year accounted for 6-7 per cent of total patients at hospitals nationwide.

A lack of specific policies and legal mechanisms on PPP has hindered the cooperation between public and private hospitals. Tien said that the Ministry of Health was collecting opinions from hospitals and experts to build a model of public private partnership with the aim of putting patients first.

Alongside this, the ministry has been working hard on implementing other measures to reduce overloading in hospitals, including satellite hospitals, family doctors, and health insurance coverage.

Blaze destroys workshop in industrial park

A large fire destroyed a workshop in Dak Lak's Buon Ma Thuot City early this morning.

The fire broke out at 1 am at Truong Hoang Vu Trade and Service JSC's wastepaper pressing workshop at Tan An 2 Industrial Park in the Central Highlands province.

The blaze was brought under control after a six-hour battle, by which time it had destroyed 2,000 square metres of the company's workshop. The damage is estimated to be worth VND12 billion, or US$571,000, according to the provincial Fire Fighting and Prevention Police Department Deputy Head Doan Ngoc Tan. Fortunately, no one was reportedly injured.

The local authorities are investigating the cause of the fire.

Five hospitalised for mushroom poisoning

Five members of a family are being treated at the northern Thai Nguyen Province's General Hospital for mushroom poisoning.

The victims, aged between 12 and 35, reportedly had symptoms of stomachache, vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea seven hours after they ate wild mushrooms collected from a local forest.

As the patients were hospitalised at 7.30 am today, which was 20 hours after they had eaten the mushrooms, the treatment would be difficult, according to Ha Duc Trinh from the Thai Nguyen General Hospital.

In a similar case, the hospital had received five members of another family on Sunday, who suffered serious damage to their liver and digestive systems and had symptoms of vomiting, nausea and a drop in the blood pressure. They too had eaten poisonous mushrooms. They are now being treated at the Bach Mai Hospital's Anti-poison Center.

Activities mark Dien Bien Phu victory

“Dien Bien Phu Victory – the Strength of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh era” is the theme of a conference that will take place in Dien Bien province to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory (May 7, 1954-2014).

The information was revealed during a press briefing on March 13 in Hanoi, which was jointly held by the Ministry of Defence and the northwestern province.

The event aims to highlight the significance of the great victory, as well as lessons learned from it, thus helping Vietnamese people, especially young generations, better their understanding about the tradition of self-reliance and patriotism of people in the northwestern region and the whole nation in general.

The sound and creative people-based war strategy designed by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh City will be also spotlighted.

The conference will also discuss the role and contributions of the armed forces and people across the nation, especially Dien Bien residents, to the victory, which helped end the nation’s nine-year war of resistance against the French colonialists.

According to Colonel Nguyen Phuong Dien, deputy head of the Popularisation and Training Division under the Politics General Department of the Vietnam People’s Army, a series of activities will be carried out to celebrate the historical event, including a grand ceremony in Dien Bien on May 7.

As part of the celebratory activities, more than 130 artists from all regions of the country gathered at a performance in the province on March 13. They charmed local audience with songs, poems and dances reminding the victory and President Ho Chi Minh.

Their five-day performance tour started from Hanoi , went through Hoa Binh and Son La province, and finished in Dien Bien.

The same day, an exhibition featuring Dien Bien Phu hallmarks and the culture and tourism of the northwestern region also opened, with more than 200 paintings and 120 documentary photos on display.

Visitors to the event, which will run until March 15, have a good chance to understand about the special culture of ethnic minority groups and contemplate beauty spots in the region.

With a host of activities planned to mark the anniversary, the province hopes to welcome 440,000 visitors, including 75,000 foreigners this year.

Alongside the Dien Bien Phu historical site, Dien Bien is also home to several famous sightseeing spots such as Muong Nhe primitive jungle, Hua Pe and U Va hot springs, and the Pa Khoang and Huoi Pa lakes.

RoK helps Vietnam in marine research

The Republic of Korea (RoK) on March 13 announced that it will provide marine technologies to developing Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, to assist in the prevention of maritime accidents.

The same day, Yonhap News Agency quoted an official from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries as saying that a group of 16 government officials from Cambodia, East Timor, the Philippines, and Vietnam will fly to the RoK next week for a month-long training programme in marine research.

These technologies are designed to help prevent marine accidents that are all to frequent in developing countries due to their lack of ocean maps, it said.

The training is part of the RoK Government’s ongoing support for developing countries.

Annually, the RoK organizes nine similar training courses, with lectures focusing on such topics as earthquake-induced tsunamis and rip-currents, as well as ways to minimize damages from such catastrophic events.

EU-funded project promotes sustainable aquaculture

Outcomes of the EU-funded “Sustainable Trade in Ethical Aquaculture” (SEAT) project, which was implemented in the Mekong Delta region from 2009-2013, were announced on March 12 in Can Tho city.

Coordinated by the University of Stirling in Scotland, the project was conducted in Vietnam, Thailand, China and Bangladesh, which are main aquatic product exporters to markets in the EU.

It aimed to analyse aquatic production chains and their impact on socio-economic development, environment, food safety and community health, thus mapping out development orientations and enhancing sustainability of aquaculture in Asia.

In addition, it has also investigated the social and ethical effects of aquaculture in the countries.

Assessments from the project showed that the chemical residue in Vietnam’s products exported to the EU is not dangerous to users. The rate is only equivalent to those produced in the bloc.

Through the project, the countries were encouraged to establish an international standard on the maximum limit of chemical residue in their aquatic exports.

Ha Noi seeks training links with Germany

Vice Chairwoman of the Ha Noi People's Committee Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc has said the capital city wants to introduce more vocational training in some key sectors.

At a working session with several German vocational training corporations on Wednesday, she said the city needed about 120,000-130,000 trained workers every year to serve about 150,000 local enterprises.

Meanwhile, Ngoc said many of the 80,000 high-school graduates every year sought jobs not a university education. However, the number of vocational training schools is insufficient to provide all the training necessary.

She suggested that German partners consider the possibility of on-the-spot training by German experts sent to Ha Noi.

Klaus Michel, director general of the Avesto Workers Supply and Training Group, suggested that Ha Noi work with the firm establish a Ha Noi-Berlin vocational training institute.

The centre, estimated to cost of about EUR20 million (US$28 million), would function as a centre for career advice to high-school graduates, as well as showcase Germany 's vocational training models.

Michel said that with its experience in training vocational teachers and labourers, the firm had expanded its network to countries such as China, India and the South Korea.

At the same time, Susan Strauch, head of the BTZ Hi-Tech Centre, said Ha Noi should simplify investment procedures to enable foreign firms to invest in the training sector.

Central province devises cash incentives to lure extra doctors

Quang Nam Province has come up with an incentive scheme to attract more doctors to its hospitals.

Highly trained medics - those with a PhD - who agree to work in the central province of Quang Nam will receive a one-off payment of up to VND500 million (US$23,800), according to a new decision of the provincial People's Committee.

However, they must pledge to stay in the province for 12-18 years.

Doctors already holding an MA degree will receive an allowance of VND300-350 million ($14,200-16,600).

And those who recently graduated from medical universities will receive VND200-250 million ($9,500-11,900), depending on their qualifications.

The doctors will be added to the permanent staff at the province's public hospital without any exam.

Doctors with a PhD degree should not be more than 45 years old. Those with an MA should not be more than 40. However, doctors with lots of experience can be over 45.

If the doctors volunteer to work in hospitals in poor remote districts, such as Nong Son, Tien Phuoc and Bac Tra My, they will receive one additional payment of VND20-80 million ($950-3,800).

The doctors will also be given VND100 million ($4,700) to build their own accommodation in the province. This will be paid when they receive land-use rights certificate from local authorities.

After two years of working, the doctors will be sent for further study.

The regulations will not apply to doctors who used to work in the province, then moved out and now want to come back.

Extensive measures to protect forests in Tay Ninh

The southern province of Tay Ninh is employing all necessary measures to protect 60,000 ha of forests at risk of large-scale fires due to the prolonged dry season.

The forests are grown along the borderline with Cambodia and the southern province of Binh Phuoc , and near areas inhabited by ethnic groups.

The locality has taken drastic measures such as building fire belts, providing full equipment to prevent and fight fire, as well as intensifying around-the-clock patrols.

Earlier on March 7, a forest fire was reported at a 0.6 hectare sub-area in the cultural and historical forest site of Ba Den (Black Lady) Mountain – one of the four forest owners of the province. Reckless burning practices by local residents were attributed to the fire, said the provincial Department of Forest Management.

Besides Tay Ninh, seven other localities nationwide have been alerted of forest fire risk, namely Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, Gia Lai, Khanh Hoa, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, and Son La.

In 2013, nearly 250 fires occurred across the country, destroying 965 ha of forests. No casualties were reported.

The same year, more than 227,000 hectares of land nationwide were covered with trees, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The country aims to raise the rate of forest coverage to 41.5 percent this year.

NGOs work for sustainable forest development

Six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Vietnam are carrying out four UK-funded projects this year in a joint effort to manage and use forest resources in a sustainable manner, according to the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature).

The projects worth nearly 2.9 billion VND (136,300 USD) focus on issues relating to forest land allocation and gender issue in the 2004 forest protection and development law while assessing disputes relating to land use right in the country’s reserve areas, added PanNature, which is a Vietnamese not-for-profit organisation dedicated to protecting and conserving diversity of life and improving human well-being in Vietnam.

The NGOs are the Centre for Rural Development in Central Vietnam (CRD), the Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD), the Consultative and Research Centre for Natural Resource Management (CORENARM), the Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Fund (RDPR), the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Research and Development (CIRD), and Centre for Research and Consultancy on Natural Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development (CRCSD).-

Power Saving Action Month launched in Hanoi

A ceremony was held on March 13 by the Hanoi Power Corporation to initiate Power Saving Action Month, a response to the 2014 Earth Hour campaign.

The event, which took place at Trung Vuong Secondary School, drew the participation of leaders and civil servants from the Vietnam Electricity group (EVN), the Hanoi Power Corporation and Hanoi People’s Committee, along with 1,000 students from the school.

At the launch, the organising board introduced the three faces representing this year’s campaign: Danish Ambassador to Vietnam John Nielsen, 2008 Miss Vietnam runner-up Thuy Van and singer Bao Tram.

Vietnam first observed Earth Hour in 2009, saving 140,000 kWh of electricity. 500,000 kWh of electricity was saved during Earth Hour 2010, 400,000kWh was saved in 2011 and last year’s event saved 196,000kWh.

According to EVN Deputy General Director Nguyen Quang Trung, the campaign, which calls upon people to save energy by turning off lights and unnecessary electrical equipment for one hour, raises awareness of energy conservation and encourages individuals to make lifestyle changes to battle climate change.

During the event, the students of Trung Vuong Secondary School had an opportunity to speak with the ambassadors of this year’s campaign.

Danish Ambassador John Nielsen said, “Small activities, such as turning off lights and other unnecessary power sources, saving water or bicycling, will contribute to reducing the country’s energy footprint and helping to mitigate climate change threats”. He also appealed to all members of the community to work together to protect the earth.

After the ceremony, the representatives joined business leaders and civil servants from the EVN and the Hanoi Power Corporation participated in a cycling for the environment event.

Earth Hour 2014 is scheduled from 8:30–9:30pm on March 29, 2014. A special event will take place in August Revolution Square, in front of the Hanoi Opera House.

HCM city’s youth supports Earth Hour 2014

More than 1,000 young people will participate in a bicycle parade supporting Earth Hour 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City on March 15.

The procession will be traveling through Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Nguyen Van Troi, Vo Van Kiet and Tran Hung Dao. Participating businesses and citizens are advised to turn off their lights and appliances for Earth Hour.

The “104th Green Sunday” program has 700 volunteers planting trees along Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Street and cleaning the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal on March 16.

The HCMC Youth Union with 300 members will give an instruction on how to sort recyclables and how to use sustainable products.

Students must wear life-jacket to learn to swim

The Department of Education and Training in Ho Chi Minh City released a guideline ordering children to wear life-jackets when learning to swim.

Students are required to sign a contract with the club or organization prior to learning to swim. Teachers are required to teach students in shallow pools and prohibit students from learning new techniques in deep water.

Source: VNA/SGGP/VNS/VOV/Nhandan/Dantri
mushroom poisoning, hospital, marine, Germany, Earth Hour 2014