SOCIETY IN BRIEF 13/4

Published: 12/04/2011 05:00

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Apathy hinders swine flu fight

Apathy was a major hurdle in fighting swine flu, despite reports of many new infections, National Hospital for Tropical Diseases doctor Doan Van Trung said recently.

“Swine flu, or A/H1N1, can spread rapidly by direct contact or through the air by coughing or sneezing,” Trung said.

“However, many are indifferent to the dangers involved, so they still go to work without wearing masks, not knowing they have swine flu because the symptoms are the same as with common flu.”

Since the beginning of the year, 347 cases of A/H1N1 flu had been detected in 35 cities and provinces, 10 of them fatal.

The worst cases were in February, when 18 students at Muong Nhe District Boarding School in northern Dien Bien Province tested positive to swine flu, and last month, when eight students at Doan Thi Diem High School in southern Ben Tre Province’s Tan Phong Commune were found to have the virus.

Trung said the hospital for tropical diseases had received 176 patients with A/H1N1. About 43 per cent of those who had died were pregnant women, he said.

Nguyen Huyen Thuong, mother of a four-year-old boy, said she and her child seldom wore masks when they went to hospitals for check-ups.

“We all forget about it and my son finds the mask inconvenient,” she said.

Thuong said children did not wear masks at schools.

Meanwhile, Dr Nguyen Thi Minh Phuong of the HCM City Pasteur Institute, said patients showing swine flu symptoms, such as cough, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle or joint pains, chills, vomiting or diarrhoea, for more than three days should seek medical help immediately.

Phuong said they should not self-prescribe, especially with the anti-viral medication Tamiflu, which can have side effects.

The A/H1N1 flu virus hit Viet Nam in May 2009, infecting 10,000 people, leaving 50 dead. The epidemic was described as being under control in July 2010.

HCM City landlords lend a hand

Huynh Thi Thanh and her husband were among the first landlords in HCM City’s Thu Duc District to decide not to raise their house rent this year.

They had originally planned to hike the rent by VND50,000 for each of room they rent out at 19/1, 3rd Street, property in Linh Trung Ward.

But after prices shot up after Tet (the Lunar New Year) in early February, local officials came around and urged her not to do so since most tenants in the area were poor, immigrant workers, and she complied.

Besides, Thanh and her husband are willing to repair things for free and pay the garbage-collection fee for their tenants, mostly workers from elsewhere.

Sometimes, they even call on sick tenants with small gifts.

Thanh said that not raising rents meant they had to tighten the belt themselves, but she was happy to be doing something helpful.

The Thu Duc District People’s Committee began the campaign to persuade house owners not to raise rents and private creches not to increase fees in early March.

They first tried it in Linh Trung and Binh Chieu Wards before expanding to seven others.

It has benefited nearly 135,000 workers who are renting rooms and more than 10,300 others whose children are in creches.

Le Thi Thanh Hoa, who owns a house in Linh Xuan Ward, has joined the campaign after keeping rents unchanged for the last three years.

Her house has 32 rooms where 123 people stay.

Hoa, who is also the head of the landlords’ association in the area, said her tenants earn a living far away from their hometown and family and have many things to worry about.

“So if we raise the rent, it will put a bigger burden on their shoulders,” she said.

Chau Hanh, who runs a creche at 16th Street, Linh Xuan Ward, had financial problems herself but was ready to share the workers’ burden by not increasing fees.

Hanh said she thought that when the government is looking out for poor workers, she should do the same.

“There is a need to join forces with authorities to share the workers’ burden,” she said.

When workers work overtime and do not pick up their children in time, Hanh takes care of them without charging extra.

To ensure the campaign is a success, Thu Duc authorities have ensured the house taxes the landlords pay and garbage-collection fees are not increased.

Dang Thi Bich Thuan of Linh Trung Ward’s Party Secretary said as soon as the campaign was launched, her ward set up a task force to mobilise landlords.

The task force also patiently tracked down landlords who do not live in the area to contact them.

The District Veterans’ Association has urged Party members renting out houses not to increase rent as an example.

Speaking at a monthly review meeting on Thursday, Nguyen Van Dua, Permanent Deputy Secretary of the city Party’s Committee, said the campaign had not only helped poor people at a time of inflation, it had also cemented community solidarity.

He urged the Thu Duc authorities to improve the campaign and mobilise more landlords.

Conference reviews progress of women

Around 1.2 million women in HCM City got jobs in the last decade, reducing the female unemployment rate down to 5 per cent, according to the Committee for the Advancement of Women.

In the period VND2.1 trillion (US$100 million) had also been raised for the hunger elimination and poverty reduction fund which provided loans to more than 1 million poor women for doing small business, it reported at a conference last Thursday.

The conference was held by the People’s Committee to review implementation of the 10-year-old national strategy for the progress of women in the city.

Illiteracy had been eliminated among women aged under 40 while 98 per cent of school-age female children went to schools, it reported.

The number of women with access to health care had also increased year by year, reaching 97 per cent last year, 2 per cent higher than the national target.

As of June last year, 44 of the City’s 66 State, political, and socio-political organisations had been headed by women for a ratio of 66.6 per cent compared to the national target of 50 per cent.

At the conference, officials from City districts and agencies also reported on their methods, results, and experiences in the task of supporting women.

Ho Thi Ai, chairwoman of the Women’s Union and a member of the Can Gio District Committee for the Advancement of Women, said the Committee has helped change the lives of women, including through encouraging them to learn vocational skills and participating in social activities.

The district has also created several production models suitable for women, she added.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, deputy secretary of the City Party Committee, said: “Over the past 10 years, the role and position of women have improved significantly. The City’s targets for the progress of women are higher than the national targets but most have been reached.”

She urged the Committee for the Advancement of Women to continue strengthening the participation of women in management and leadership positions and reduce the gap between females in rural and urban areas.

The City People’s Committee announced a target that every department, sector, agency, and people’s committee at all levels should have at least one woman leader by 2015.

Besides, it also targets that 98 per cent of the City’s female population should be literate while more than 90 per cent of poor households headed by women receive loans from credit funds for doing business.

Students to compete in US science contest

Two research projects from Tran Dai Nghia High School have won tickets for the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2011 in Los Angeles in May.

Nguyen Hai An, an 11th-grade student, was selected for his project that uses waste from shrimp breeding to make chitosan, which helps preserve vegetables and foodstuff.

Another project, Kinh thien van (the astronomical telescope), developed by a group of students in grade 11, helps observers of celestial phenomena and take photos of stars.

The fair in HCM City was organised by Intel Viet Nam in collaboration with the HCM City Department of Education and Training.

Viet Nam keeps close watch on Chinese milk

Viet Nam would tighten inspections on milk and dairy products imported from China, said director of the Viet Nam Food Administration Nguyen Cong Khan.

The decision came after the Chinese Government quality control and quarantine authority revealed that nearly 50 per cent of milk companies in China had such poor standards that their licences were not renewed.

The administration asked China to provide the names of the failed dairy companies and their product details but no response had been received, said Khan.

“The best way to ensure food hygiene and safety now is to tighten inspections of not only milk but also all food products in the market,” Khan said.

“We will strengthen both scheduled and random milk testing,” he said.

Viet Nam has imported few dairy products from China since melamine-tainted milk was detected there in 2008. The imported milk was mainly used in cakes and ice cream, according to the administration.

Khan also added that inspections had not uncovered any melamine contaminated products in Viet Nam’s market.

Administration statistics reveal that Vietnamese importers have not made any quality testing requests for Chinese dairy products since the beginning of the year.

The administration has also said that people should not worry about Chinese dairy products because all imported food products that enter the country must have a food safety licence from Chinese authorities.

Ministry steps up fight against online games

Schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions of the formal education system are required to set up a mailbox to collect reports on any student playing violent online games in order to stop them from being addicted, the Ministry of Education and Training says.

In its 2011-2015 plan released Friday, the Ministry also demands staffers, teachers, and students commit themselves to not playing such games.

Schools and universities should proactively ask competent authorities to clamp down on local Internet shops that breach any regulations with regard to online game services, it says.

Former teachers and parents should also stand shoulder to shoulder to discourage students from the harmful games, it suggests.

Poor provinces receive 2,500 classrooms

Nearly 2,500 new classrooms, libraries and laboratories have been built in 22 disadvantaged provinces nationwide under a development project in Viet Nam.

The Upper Secondary Education Development Project was launched in 2003 in a bid by the Ministry of Education and Training and the Asian Development Bank to improve the quality of secondary education in disadvantaged areas.

Around 59,000 students in the provinces of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Bac Can, Lang Son, Quang Binh, Ninh Thuan and Kon Tum have all benefited from the project so far.

ADB provided a US$64 million loan for the project, that was expected to finish in June, six months later than scheduled due to some operational changes, said deputy minister Nguyen Vinh Hien.

It was just one of the Government’s efforts to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through enhancing secondary education, he said.

Over 72,000 teachers and education managers have received training as part of the project, and more than 4 million textbooks and teaching aids have been provided for schools.

Reproductive health pamphlets have also been distributed among schoolgirls.

According to a project summary report, over 93 per cent of total capital has been disbursed so far.

“The new classrooms have given us increased capacity and we can accommodate 60 per cent more students now. Our school is now one of the top schools in the province,” said the headmaster of Luong Van Tri Upper Secondary School in the northern province of Lang Son.

The number of disadvantaged students that dropped out of school fell, because many of them had less distance to travel, said a representative from Nguyen Hue city Upper Secondary School in the Central Highland province of Gia Lai.

The project also created favourable conditions for disadvantaged and ethnic students to access upper secondary education, said a teacher from Phan Ngoc Hien Upper Secondary School.

“The project helps raise awareness among teachers and education managers about the essentials needed to improve the quality of education in disadvantaged areas,” said Tran Nhu Tinh, an official from the Ministry of Education and Training.

The project would be more effective if we received further investment from the State, Tinh said.

The project had overcome a number of difficulties including personnel changes at ADB and the ministry, slow land clearance and price fluctuations, according to the report.

Eiko Izawar, a representative from ADB in Viet Nam said: “We always want to help develop the Vietnamese education system and provide a brighter future for the next generations.”

ADB was committed to contributing more and more into the development of Vietnamese education, she said.

Shrimp shell preservative wins Intel’s high-school contest

11th-grader Nguyen Hai An from Ho Chi Minh City has won a special prize in an invention contest organized by Intel Vietnam for his idea to turn shrimp shells, salty water, and ashes into preservatives.

An, a student at Tran Dai Nghia Specialized High School, proposed a method that would make use of huge amounts of shrimp shell waste produced every year in Vietnam.

Other 11th graders from Tran Dai Nghia also received a special prize for an idea about refractory telescopes.

Other prizes went to ideas that attempt to cope with current issues ranging from green energy to a pervasive “nail trap” problem on Vietnamese roads (repair shops scatter nails on streets to increase customers).

All special prize winners will attend the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for high school students this May in the United States.

Provide by Vietnam Travel

SOCIETY IN BRIEF 13/4 - Reports - In depth |  vietnam travel company

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