Published: 18/06/2011 05:00



Hanoi to host 2011 Vietnam Offroad Cup

As many as 40 teams will take part in the 2011 Vietnam Offroad Cup in Hanoi on June 25-26.

At a June 16 press conference in the capital, the organising board said the event aims to discover the best drivers to compete in regional and international competitions.

The competition, held jointly by the General Department of Sports and Physical Training, the online forum, Le& Brothers Co, LTD, SportTV channel on the Vietnam Cable Televsion (VCTV) and tVietnam Autocar Magazine, will award total cash prizes of VND160 million.

Vietnam learns Europe’s green business solutions

Green technologies and business solutions that Vietnam badly needs as it braces to meet climate change challenges will be presented by European firms at a conference and exhibition in HCM City on September 15-16.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) in partnership with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre on June 16 hold a press conference to officially launch the second edition of the “Conference and Exhibition on European Green Business Solutions - GreenBiz2011” programme.

The programme will focus on green sustainable business solutions, targeting the Vietnamese government and companies in particular. Organisers said it will present specific solutions to tackle climate change, energy issues and other environmental challenges.

GreenBiz works as a bride for Vietnamese and European businesses to discuss strategies for Vietnam’s changes that look towards a greener and more sustainable future, EuroCham Chairman Alain Cany said.

Vietnam eyes e-government development

The Government of Vietnam has targeted national projects and programmes towards the development of information technology infrastructure and wide application of IT in state agencies, with a view to creating a basis for building e-government architecture and raising labour productivity, as well as reducing operational costs.

These remarks were made by Nguyen Minh Hong, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, at FutureGov Forum Vietnam 2011, in Hanoi on June 14.

The national projects and programmes also focus on providing online information and public services, making state agencies’ operations more transparent and providing better services for people and businesses, he said.

The Deputy Minister spoke of solutions being taken in Vietnam, such as digital signatures in transactions and completion of national database on population and land, and application of new technologies. The country is building e-government architecture to enhance services and as the new mode of harnessing public-private human resources.

At the forum, representatives from the ministries of industry and trade, health, and finance shared models of applying IT and orientations for development, in order to improve the efficiency of online public services in the management system.

Students selected to study in Japan

Dac Nong, Soc Trang, Gia Lai, Tra Vinh and Kon Tum have been asked to select 20 candidates each from their provinces to be chosen to study in Japan.

The Department of Overseas Labour under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said this is part of a cooperation programme held by the Ministry and the International Manpower Development Organisation, Japan.

Under the Prime Minister’s recent decision Kon Tum will give priority to students in disadvantaged districts.

Nearly VND1,000 billion for building sea dyke in Ca Mau

The Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau has allocated almost VND1,000 billion for the construction of a 78-km sea dyke, from Dom Doi to Nam Can in the eastern part of the province.

Funding for the sea dyke, 7.5m wide and 3.2m high, will come from the State budget under a target progamme, as well as from official development assistance (ODA) loans and other sources, according to the Prime Minister’s Decision 667 issued in 2009.

Once completed in the next five years, the sea dyke will help Cau Mau cope with floods, storms and rising sea levels and improve the flow of traffic to key economic regions and urban residential areas for the sustainable development of eco-tourism, and national security and defence.

HCMC tightens airport checks amid E. coli fears

HCMC will increase the monitoring of international visitors entering the city via Tan Son Nhat International Airport, even though no cases of the E. coli bacteria infections have been detected, an official said.

Hoang Ngoc Hung, deputy director of HCMC’s International Health Quarantine Center, told the Daily on Tuesday that the monitoring was being done with the cooperation of many relevant agencies. But no E. coli infection cases have been found at the city’s hospitals.

According to him, the center has just sent an official document to the airport, airlines and travel firms asking for their cooperation to prevent an E. coli outbreak in the city and isolate any suspicious cases.

The city’s Health Department has sent a list of typical symptoms of E. coli infection, including high temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, colitis, digestive bleeding and kidney failure to hospitals and clinics in order to assist in the detection of the disease.

Hung added that no cases had been found at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

Meanwhile, the spread of hand-foot-and-mouth disease has hit 24 districts of the city with nearly 1,500 cases in the last month, up four times compared to the same period last year and the figure is rising.

The Health Department has confirmed that 13 children have died of the disease.

Nguyen Dac Tho, deputy director of the Municipal Department of Preventive Health, told the Daily that the city has not found any foreign kids infected with the disease.

Education pressure rises during golden population period

Scientists indicate that Vietnam has entered a period known as the ‘Golden Population Structure’ with young people accounting for the largest portion of the total population, putting high pressure on local educators to train high-quality human resources to serve the nation’s development.

This period takes place only once in the demographic history of a nation and will provide Vietnam with a unique opportunity to continue promoting its socioeconomic development, said scientists of the General Statistics Office (GSO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in a conference in Hanoi on Tuesday.

However, they warned that Vietnam would find it hard to create high-income jobs for skilled professionals in the near future.

The two bodies predicted Vietnam’s population would reach 95.3 million in 2019, 102.7 million in 2029 and 108.7 million in 2049.

Acting UN Resident Coordinator Bruce Campbell said Vietnam has become a middle-income country and it is necessary to invest in education to meet special development needs in the country and worldwide.

Demographic analysis shows that over 93.5% of the Vietnamese population aged 15 and older is literate, with literacy rates in minority ethnic groups lower than the national average. The illiteracy rate between five and 18 year olds remains high in southern provinces, such as Binh Duong 31%, Bac Lieu 26%, An Giang 26% and Soc Trang 26%.

100 policemen seize drug trafficker in Lexus car

After several hours of car chase, Hoa Binh police yesterday arrested Vu Dinh Son, 38, and seized 3.5 kilos of heroin from him. Son shot a policeman in the thigh during the chase.

The chase, involving 100 policemen, came to an end at 11 pm yesterday when Son was seized in a forest after he fled away from his car, said Colonel Bui Duc Son, director of Hoa Binh Province Police Department.

Earlier, following a tip-off from the public, local police mobilized its force in the province to capture the trafficker who was reportedly travelling in a Lexus car from Son La province to Hanoi.

When his car appeared, the police signaled for it to stop but he accelerated, rammed his Lexus into the police cars and sped through the checkpoints.

As the police chased after him, the man fired many shots at them, injuring a member of the mobile police unit.

After about 12 km, he abandoned his car and fled into a forest. About 100 policemen surrounded the area and after about an hour of searching, they seized the drug trafficker.

“The police found 8 bars of heroin in his car. We later seized another two at his home,” an official said.

Last month Lieutenant Do Manh Linh, 28, deputy head of the flying squad unit in Hoa Binh, was killed while trying to arrest a drug trafficker, the local police said.

On the evening of May 18, after getting tipped off, a joint police force was posted on National Highway 6 in Phong Phu Commune, Tan Lac District, to capture Trang A Chu, a suspect member of a large-scale drug trafficking ring.

As a suspicious Toyota Prado approached, the police signaled for it to stop, but it deliberately crashed into the police cars and seriously injured Linh and sergeant major Hoang Minh Thanh, 23.

Chu was seized later after he got out of the car and attempted suicide by hitting himself in the temple with a flash-light and using a piece of broken glass from the flash-light to cut his wrist.

Linh and Thanh were taken to the hospital but Linh died later.

The policemen found about 17 kilos of heroin, 2 bags of synthetic drugs and over VND70 million (US$3,450) in cash in Chu’s car.

20 Vietnamese tourists delayed in China

Twenty Vietnamese tourists had their flight delayed in China for one day due to technical problems and are expected to return home this afternoon or evening, Nguoi Lao Dong reported.

According to the schedule, 20 Vietnamese tourists on a package tour to Bejing, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou and Shanghai organized by Vietnam’s tour operation Vietravel will land at Ho Chi Minh City-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 22:45 p.m. on June 17 on China Airline.

However, by 9:00 am on June 18, their flight still had not arrived.

When asked about the incident, a representative of Vietravel said the flight had been delayed due to technical problems.

He added that the passengers are expected to return home in the afternoon or evening of June 18 (today).

Supreme Court annuls 10 verdicts by HCMC court

The Supreme People’s Court on Thursday annulled all ten verdicts announced by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court in the hearing of former chairman of Hoc Mon District People’s Committee, Nguyen Van Khoe, and his accomplices.

At the appeal hearing held yesterday in HCM City, the Supreme Court ruled that the case had to be reinvestigated.

Many issues related to the case needed to be confirmed, the Supreme People’s Court said.
In August last year, the HCMC Court opened the first-instance trial for Khoa and 9 others.

Khoe was given a total of 26 years in prison for three charges: taking bribes, abusing power and leveraging his influence to get illegal benefits.

After the court handed down 10 sentences, four of the accused appealed for a commutation. However, as their criminal acts were closely related to the six others, the Supreme Court annulled all the 10 sentences pending a fresh investigation.

According to the indictment from the prosecutors’ office, Khoe took a bribe of VND1.4 billion ($73,000) from Tran Thi Ha, former director of HCMC-based Thanh Phat Company. In return, he helped to get her property project in the district’s Dong Thanh Commune ratified.

He was also charged with receiving another bribe of VND780 million ($40,000), also related to the project, from Thanh Phat.

Nguyen Van Khoe was escorted to the courtroom for the first-instance trial in HCMC last August

While the Court concurred that Khoe had received VND1.4 billion as a bribe, it said the charge that Khoe took another bribe of VND780 million from Thanh Phat needed to be verified, because there was insufficient evidence to support it.

According to the City Court, after the project had been approved, Ha and Tran Van Hoa, her husband, used the land under the project as mortgage at the Cho Lon Branch of the Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (Agribank) to borrow 3,000 taels of gold ($5.5 million) and VND18 billion ($876,000), all of which they appropriated for personal use.

However, the Supreme Court said there was evidence that Ha had spent VND33 billion [of the bank loan] on compensation for people affected by their project and paying loan interest and fees for land use right transfer related to their projects.

The Supreme Court said a fresh investigation should be made to determine that how much money from the Agribank loan Ha and Hoa had used to develop their project.

Hoa declared he stepped down from the management board of Thanh Phat before his wife applied for the Agribank loan. Therefore, it is necessary to confirm whether he was one of Ha’s accomplices, the Court ruled.

Tran Thi Ha, former director of HCMC-based Thanh Phat Company, was sentenced to life in prison at the first-instance trial in HCMC last year

Ha and Hoa were each given a life sentence for swindling and giving bribes.

As part of the first instance verdict, the judgment on civil compensation responsibilities of the defendants has violated the civil procedure, the Supreme Court said.

That the City Court ordered Ha and Hoa to pay compensation to Agribank’s branch by submitting VND18 billion and 3,000 taels of gold to the State budget was unlawful, since the branch had not claimed such damages, the Supreme Court said.

The Supreme Court also requested a re-investigation into the allegations against some other defendants in the case, including Luu Thi Thanh Hien, deputy director of the Agribank’s Cho Lon branch.

Hien was sentenced to 10 years in jail for violating credit regulations.

Hanoi finds 12 juice items with DEHP

Yesterday the Hanoi Health Department ordered YNG SHIN Food Co. Ltd. in the Bich Hoa Industrial Park, Thanh Oai District, to withdraw all of its 12 fruit juice products that have been tested positive for cancer-causing plasticizer DEHP.

The company has used DEHP-containing cooking additives made in Taiwan in its production of juice, said the Food Safety and Hygiene Department.

The contaminated juices are orange, fiber orange, carrot, guava, lemon, passion fruit, mango, mixed fruits, kumquat, custard-apple, apricot, and apple.

On Thursday, three companies with products containing DEHP reported to the Ho Chi Minh City Food Safety and Hygiene Sub-Department the progress of recalling their contaminated syrups and fruit juices, which were all imported from Taiwan.

The companies are Gia Thinh Phat Co, Ltd. in Tan Binh District, Nhat Phu Quy Co., Ltd. in District 3, and MTV Ha Thanh Co., Ltd. in Binh Thanh District.

A week before that, the Sub-Department and the city Health Department had urged Gia Thinh Phat to step up the recall of 1,077 bottles of syrup, including 318 red-apple, 627 grape and 132 litchi, which were all found to contain DEHP.

The syrups had been delivered to 46 shops in the city and were imported from Ye Yen Ge Co., Ltd.

The agency had also requested Nhat Phu Quy to withdraw three juice drinks, including thin-peeled lemon, mango and litchi, which were from Possmei International Co., Ltd.

Meanwhile, MTV Ha Thanh was asked to recall 16 syrups: strawberry, kiwi, green apple, grape, litchi, melon, cassaba melon, passion fruit, peach, orange, plum, mango, pineapple, red apple, pomegranate and strawberry, which were imported from Tong Jing Network INC Co., Ltd.

A few days ago, the Food Safety and Hygiene Sub-Department took samples of instant noodles bearing South Korean brands, Shin Ramyun and Shin Ramen, to test for DEHP.

There have been media reports that the Malaysian health authorities have warned their people not to use Taiwanese-made Korean instant noodle brands Shin Ramyun and Shin Ramen because they are suspected to contain excessive amounts of DEHP.

Hong Kong authorities have found DEHP in Shin Ramyun (spicy mushroom flavor) made in China.

South Korean instant noodles Shin Ramyun is sold at Maximark Cong Hoa supermarket in Tan Binh District, HCMC (Photo: Thanh Nien)

In Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, South Korean instant noodles are available in large quantities, especially in supermarkets. They are produced in South Korea, China, and Vietnam.

Malaysian health authorities said they had yet to decide whether to order the products pulled out of the market since they are waiting for test results.

Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, deputy head of the HCM Health Department, said: “We have taken samples of Shin Ramyun and Shin Ramen instant noodles from supermarkets for testing. We will announce the test results as soon as they are available.”

DEHP, or diethylhexylphthalate, is a general-purpose plasticizer used mainly to make PVC soft and pliable.

It also finds its way into jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices, and other drinks to keep emulsions dispersed.

DEHP causes cancer, weakens male sexual ability, and causes female puberty disorder, the HCMC Health Department said.

Vietnamese students excel in Intel training

The first 28 Vietnamese students that joined the Intel Vietnam Scholars (IVS) programme have graduated with high honours from Portland State University in the US.

Chairman of the university Wim Wiewel described the graduates as real assets to Vietnam.

Most of them had grade point average between 3.9 and 4.0, 4.0 being the highest; the minimum required in the US to graduate is 2.0.

After graduation, these students are required to work for Intel for three years before they can move to another company.

US chipmaker Intel initiated the scholarship programme to provide overseas training for students to develop a high-quality workforce in countries where it has investments.

The second group of 24 students studying electronics, engineering and business,  are also showing their great talent in the US and they are expected to graduate in 2012.

ASEAN steps up marine environment preservation

The ASEAN Working Group on Marine and Coastal Environment (AWGMCE) discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in managing marine environments among member countries at its 12th meeting in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa on June 17.

The annual meeting reviewed achievements of member countries during the past year.

At the meeting, Ass. Prof. Doc. Nguyen Chu Hoi, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands and Chairman of AWGMCE, handed over this role to a representative of the Philippines.

With a coastline of 173,000 km, ASEAN territorial waters were assessed as a global centre for tropical marine biodiversity with abundant coastal ecosystems.
ASEAN had implemented many activities to preserve marine and coastal environments, such as proposing standards for marine environments and marine reserves and working out common policies to protect regional marine environments.

Since Vietnam joined AWGMCE in 1996 and undertook the role of chair from July, 2001 to July, 2010, the country had significantly contributed to protecting common interests in marine and coastal environments.

Scientific research essential for agriculture

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan stressed the need to promote scientific research in a bid to ensure sustainable development for the agricultural sector.

The Deputy PM was speaking at a meeting with leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on June 17, during which he described agriculture as one of Vietnam’s strengths and a sector greatly contributing to the country’s exports.

Apart from such factors as soil and human resources, new varieties and advanced technologies were of significance to the development of agriculture, he said.

With its own inherent advantages, Vietnam needed to become a power in agriculture while ensuring the sector’s sustainable development in the next ten years, he said.

The leading government official said the Party and State attached much importance to agricultural and rural development, especially investment in agriculture. He added that the State was ready to pour money into scientific agricultural research to help raise productivity and quality.

He urged relevant ministries, agencies and localities to give priority to scientific research and apply their outcomes in agricultural production.

In reply, MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat said that the research, application and transfer of science and technology were urgently required to ensure the sector’s effective and sustainable development.

Past achievements have proved that science and technology helped to increase productivity, quality and competitiveness for the sector, he said.

The industry, therefore, has continuously revamped its mechanisms and policies to encourage the involvement of individuals and economic sectors, the minister said.

At the meeting, MARD Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong made a report on results of technological research and transfer during the 2006-2010 period, which, he said actively contributed to agricultural production and rural development.

Most worthy of note was the improvement in quality of agricultural materials and products, helping to promote made-in-Vietnam product prestige in both local and foreign markets, he said.

Vietnam travel campaign to air on BBC

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) will begin airing a commercial promoting Vietnam tourism in July.

The 15-second commercial will be broadcast 260 times or three times a day for three months, with total production and broadcasting package to cost 100,000 USD, according to Nguyen Van Tinh, director of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s International Cooperation Department.

Tinh said the commercial would focus on promoting coastal tourism, and introduce various beach destinations from north to south, including Ha Long, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and others in the central Viet Nam, targeting tourists from Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, the RoK, Spain, the UK, the US and others.

Vietnam sets int’l development example

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) of Britain recently released a report on five Southeast Asian examples in development, including Vietnam.

Dr. Liesbet Steer, a co-author of the report, said the report evaluated living conditions, healthcare, education, public voices in political life and several other criteria.

ODI said, to some extent, living standards in Vietnam and the other four exemplary nations of Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have improved very impressively.

The institute described Vietnam’s achievements as “respectable”, especially in poverty alleviation.

Vietnam has reportedly managed to cut the poverty rate by 44 percent in just almost 20 years, from 58 percent in early the 1990s down to 14 percent in 2008.

ODI highlighted the economy’s drastic growth and its progress in human development with a sharp drop in child mortality.

The institute also recognised major progress made by Laos in rural hygiene, thanks to its success in renovating the water supply and distribution system.

Dr Steer emphasised Cambodia’s reforms in primary and secondary education at the same time as a major achievement, equipping youth with good knowledge on entering the labour market.

The achievement had brought about a difference for the nation when most other nations were only able to invest in primary and secondary education turn by turn, she explained.

The author, however, encouraged Cambodia to pay more attention to improving its educational quality in the future.

The ODI attributed success in Asia, Africa and South America to national leaders, who, it said, were far-sighted and capable of encouraging public involvement in leadership at all levels, as well as being able to generate favourable conditions for initiatives and reforms to be implemented smoothly.

Ha Noi to survey public on admin procedures

Ha Noi is going to evaluate customer satisfaction through a series of surveys about administrative procedures in city departments.

“Administrative reform had made some progress but had yet to fully satisfy expectations,” said Tran Huy Sang, director of the municipal Department of Home Affairs.

“The Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) ranking of the capital is quite low when compared with other localities and had fallen even further over the past year.

“The low ranking is due to complicated administrative procedures and poor professional attitudes among the administrative officials. Therefore it is necessary to improve the work ethics among administrative staff by imposing sanctions and offering rewards when they are deserved,” he said.

Questionnaires were issued to customers to assess the ability and work ethics of administrators. Results will facilitate creation of a transparent administrative environment.

Staff with numerous negative comments will be reassigned to new duties or face discipline under the Law on State Employees.

In another move, the municipal People’s Committee has decided to establish a customer service office to deal with comments about individuals and enterprises that work with administrative procedures.

The committee announced a new list of 1,638 administrative procedures for about 20 departments and units. The procedures were developed under the framework of Project 30, an administrative reform project that has been in process since 2009.

Under the project, several administrative departments have reduced the number of procedures by as many as 138 to as few as five.

“However most commune-level offices have yet to seriously implement administrative reform,” said Nguyen Thinh Thanh, chief of the Ha Noi People’s Committee’s Office.

Early this week Government authorities revealed that about VND30 trillion (US$1.5 billion) had been saved thank to simplified administrative procedures at all levels.

Three years into implementation of the Project, 30 nation-wide, 5,000 procedures have been streamlined by eliminating unnecessary steps and modifying incomplete ones.

VN targets pharmaceuticals sector

Improving the domestic pharmaceutical industry would be the health sector’s highest priority in the coming years in order to satisfy 70 per cent of the nation’s demand by 2015, said Deputy Minister of Health Cao Minh Quang.

Quang made the statement at a workshop held yesterday in Ha Noi by the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

“The pharmaceutical industry of Viet Nam is facing many challenges such as overlapping investment and a lack of attention for production of special and technology-intensive medicines,” said Quang.

“The existing policies are not strong enough to encourage the use of local medicines, support export or call for foreign investment to Viet Nam’s pharmaceutical sector.”

Health ministry statistics show that the value of the nation’s total medicine consumption reached more than US$1.9 billion last year. Local production was valued at nearly $920 million and met 48 per cent of the nation’s needs.

“Access to essential medicines still remains a public health concern in Viet Nam,” said WHO Representative in Viet Nam Graham Harrison.

For example, child medications had a very limited availability in both the public and private sector, he said.

“The local pharmaceutical production policy should therefore be aimed primarily at meeting public health needs and ensuring that safe and quality-assured medicines should be available at all times.”

Deputy Director of the Viet Nam Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Trade Association Nguyen Quy Son said that most drug manufacturing firms in Viet Nam had modest capital investment sources, ranging from $1-5billion. The lack of capital and human resources contributed to the inability of local firms to compete with international groups in the domestic market.

“The Government should promulgate more preferential policies for domestic pharmaceutical firms and widely promote the use of domestic medicines over imported medicines,” he said.

The Ministry of Health forecasts that the size of the Viet Nam pharmaceutical market will exceed $2 billion and annual growth will reach between 17-19 per cent this year.

Ba Vi’s deteriorating bridges hinder local development

At least five bridges in the Ba Vi District of Ha Noi have deteriorated to such an extent that they might collapse at any moment.
This not only threatens the safety of local people, but also seriously hampers transport and local development.

Deputy head of the district’s Infrastructure Management Department Tran Quang Khuyen said that, out of a total 34 district bridges, more than 20 were over five decades old.

The bridges, mostly built from a combination of pre-fabricated concrete and laterite, span 15-20m with a width of 2-3m.

Khuyen confirmed that the five worst bridges included the Da and Vi Nhue bridges in Tien Phong Commune, the Muoi and Bai bridges in Yen Bai Commune and the Dam Bridge in Cam Linh Commune.

The district department has called on the municipal People’s Committee to provide funding in order to upgrade the bridges since April.

District People’s Committee Chairman Ha Xuan Hung said that the bridges not only connected communes throughout the district, but also to city centre and related tourist routes.

Chairman of the Tien Phong Commune People’s Committee Nguyen Tri Nguyen said that Da Bridge, built in 1988, was unable to deal with current traffic demands, adding that commune residents, earning their livings from trading eggs and baking bricks, had been forced to search out alternative and safer routes of transport.

Similarly, the number of vehicles crossing the Muoi Bridge in Yen Bai Commune has tripled since being linked to Thang Long Boulervard. The connection makes visitors to Ba Vi Mountain save about one hour driving than previously.

Local resident Nguyen Van Cuong, who usually travelled via the bridge, said that since earlier this year, large trucks were not allowed to cross the bridge seeing as it could not deal with the increasing loads.

Chairman of the Yen Bai Commune People’s Committee, Nguyen Van Me said that the Muoi Bridge, connecting the commune to neighbouring ones, was currently only suited to motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians.

Around three months ago, the local authority posted guards at bridge ends in order to stop trucks/coaches from travelling across it due to two dangerous 1-metre-wide holes apprearing on the bridge’s surface.

An alternative route was eventually opened by a tourist company last month, according to Me who said that the Muoi Bridge used to be on the way to various of the company’s tourist destinations.

The new route has also been serving local residents who were left desperate due to the bridge’s deteriorating state.

Hotline for families, reproductive health

The General Office for Population and Family Planning launched its new “For the quality of life” hotline which will offer consultations and advice regarding reproductive health, pregnancy and family planning yesterday at a ceremony in Ha Noi.

People of any age are encouraged to call 1900571265 to talk about their problems and pose questions to doctors and experts on reproductive health, safe motherhood and family issues.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said the hotline would play a very important role in the dissemination of the Government’s family planning policy and information on gender and family issues.

“The General Office will strictly control the hotline’s operations to ensure good quality, especially during the first months of operation,” he said.

Duong Quoc Trong, head of the General Office, stressed the importance of the media in the country’s achievements in population control and family planning.

He said that communications played a pivotal role in changing people’s behaviour and could help the authorities achieve success in population control.

“The General Office pledges to frequently keep track of the consultancy work to ensure that people can confide in and trust in the hotline.”

The hotline began operations yesterday and offers advice from 8am to 9pm everyday, including weekends and holidays.

The new website operated by the General Office to offer information on reproductive health and family issues was also introduced at the ceremony.

The hotline and website were established and will be operated by the General Office in co-operation with two enterprises.

Diabetes medicine ‘may cause cancer’

The Drug Administration of Viet Nam (DAV) has confirmed that pioglitazone, which is an ingredient in medicines used to treat diabetes, can increase the risk of bladder cancer.

DAV Director Truong Quoc Cuong said the French Medicine Agency (Afssaps) decided last Thursday to suspend the use of medicines containing pioglitazone, including Actos and Competact, while awaiting final results of a review of their benefits and risks.

Medicines containing pioglitazone are used to treat Type 2 diabetes, typically called non-insulin dependent diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease.

To ensure safety, DAV ordered health departments at the provincial and lower levels to inform their clinics and pharmacists of the risks associated with medicines containing pioglitazone.

The National Centre of Drug Information and Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring was assigned to provide information about pioglitazone safety and send reports to the administration for further assessments.

Clinics are also required to carefully watch for, identify and promptly handle any adverse drug reactions to pioglitazone.

The European Medicines Agency and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have conducted experiments to test the safety of the medicines.

The FDA highly recommended doctors to avoid prescribing medicines containing pioglitazone.

Doctors are required to advise patients about the risks of bladder cancer whenever they find signs of blood in the urine, backaches or bellyaches.

City to boost funds to battle diseases

HCM City is ready to allocate more funds to prevent hand-foot-and-mouth disease, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee Hua Ngoc Thuan said on Thursday.

At an emergency meeting between the committee and relevant agencies, Thuan also ordered district preventive health centres and local authorities to speed up spraying of chemicals and strengthen dissemination of information about disinfection of floors and toys in houses with children aged under five.

Preventing the spread of the disease in schools, especially kindergartens, was the task of the Department of Education and Training, he said.

The head of the Pasteur Institute, Dr Tran Ngoc Huu, said this year the epidemic began in April and was showing no sign of going away.

It had spread to most southern provinces and cities, he added.

According to the institute, in the first week of this month 1,193 children contracted the disease in the southern region.

Five of them died, taking the number of fatalities to 29 this year.

The City Pasteur Institute’s report said that 8,207 kids in the southern provinces and cities infected with the disease since the beginning of this year, double compared to the same period of last year.

In HCM City alone, the whole city has had 3,577 children, 140 per cent higher than the same period of last year.

Among them, 15 died.

At the end of May and beginning of June, the number of patients skyrocketed to 400 a week, six times last year’s rate.

Of them 70 per cent were aged under three.

The epidemic has been severe in Districts 8, Tan Binh and Go Vap and worsening in some other districts like 1, 6, 7 and Nha Be.

Huu said his institute had taken 222 samples from infected people this year for testing and found 85 per cent of them containing the C4 virus and the remaining 15 per cent, C5.

The two were classified as enterovirus 71, which are highly virulent and even cause death, he said.

He suggested that the department should co-operate with his institute to begin more training courses for health officials in the southern region in preventing the disease and taking samples.

Le Truong Giang, the department’s deputy head, said prevention efforts in districts were not effective enough.

Besides, people’s awareness of the need to keep the environment around their house clean was low while health workers did not spray chemicals regularly, he added.

Energy-inefficieny rife in majority of HCM City buildings

Many buildings in HCM City failed to meet ecological and energy factors, said environment experts and architects at a recent workshop on energy savings.

Outdated energy-inefficient air conditioners, lighting systems, office appliances, elevators, and other auxiliary devices like pumps and air ducts are in use in many buildings.

For these appliances, the typical energy consumption is 40-60 per cent for air conditioning, 15-20 per cent for lighting, 10-15 per cent for offices, and the remaining devices, the rest.

Energy-saving potential for cooling and lighting systems is estimated at around 20 to 35 per cent.

On average, green buildings could cut 35 per cent of carbon emissions, 30-50 per cent of water consumption and 50 per cent – 90 per cent of the cost for waste treatment.

Huynh Kim Tuoc, director of HCM City Energy Conservation Centre, said the pace of high-rise building construction in the city required more sustainable construction methods.

Many hotels in HCM City have invested a lot of money to reduce power consumption and attract more tourists.

Majestic Hotel, which has saved 20 per cent on electricity, is an example. It has redesigned its energy consumption structure and each year has been saving around 719,866 kWh electricity or VND1 billion (US$48,700).

However, the awareness of green building among investors is not high.

Real estate developers and investors only focus on the immediate profit due to their insufficient financial capacity.

Tran Khanh Trung, director of TTK Architecture and Design, said his customers were not interested in environmentally friendly elements if they had to spend much more money to meet the criteria.

In designing, fewer than 50 per cent are concerned about environmental and energy saving issues.

“They don’t care if the buildings are beautiful or not. The trend of green building has not occurred here. In order to do that, an architect is not enough,” Trung said.

The city has decided to subsidise 30 projects in the city, with a total fund of VND1.1 billion ($53,600), to promote green building.

“It’s a little amount of money for a building,” Trung said, adding: “The subsidy should be much more. In France, the Government is ready to spend 30 per cent of the project’s value to encourage sustainable development.”

High-rise buildings like offices, hotels and apartments are the main consumers of commercial and service energy, which makes up 10 per cent of total energy consumption in Viet Nam.

In the next 10 years, the figure will go up 3.6 times because many more commercial buildings will be built.

Japan helps train VN engineers

The city’s Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) in collaboration with the Japan International Co-operation Agency and the Tri Dung Business School launched yesterday a project to train engineers in the plastic processing sector.

The project aims to help develop one of the key supporting industries and promote technology transfer from Japan.

Goto Sadatsugu, adviser of the Tri Dung Business School, said the project aimed to strengthen co-operation and foster business relations between Japan and Viet Nam in this sector.

Nguyen Anh Ngoc, deputy director of ITPC, said the people with engineering degrees in the discipline would be eligible to join the project. They would be able to improve their professional knowledge and learn about the latest technological developments in the field, he said.

Training courses under the four-year project (2011-2014) will be conducted by Japanese specialists.

Course participants will have the opportunity to work with Japanese companies in HCM City and southern provinces.

Training fees for the courses will be sponsored by JICA.

The courses will focus on four main areas – mechanical, chemical and electronic engineering as well as foodstuff processing. In Viet Nam, supporting industries are needed for all these areas and related businesses to develop, a key supporting industry in the plastics industry.

Four sick after inhaling unknown gas

At least four people including one child were hospitalised in southern Binh Duong Province after inhaling chemical fumes from a factory that manufactures detergents.

The unpleasant fumes were alleged to have come from a chemical leak at Tico Co Ltd’s ABS Factory, Thuan An District police said. They made scores of people dizzy and faint.

An Phu Ward Police were working with environmental agencies to find the cause of the fumes.

The ABS Factory produces 20,000 tonnes of surfactants a year. Surfactants lower the surface tension of a liquid and may act as detergents foaming agents or dispersants.

Website details locations for uni entrance exams

The HCM City Geographical Information System of the Department of Science and Technology has recently launched a website that details the locations of the city’s examination sites for high school graduates.

The examination sites of all universities and colleges in HCM City have already been updated at, according to the project manager, Nguyen Van Quy.

He added that candidates would be able to find their way to university entrance exaexams, without getting lost.

Dong Nai tech college to be upgraded to university

The Dong Nai Technology College will be upgraded to a university following Decision 929/QD-TTg by the Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Education and Training has been asked to check all quality requirements before allowing the college to open university courses.

Over 8,500 students are expected to enrol in the private university, located in Bien Hoa City.

The university has been fully equipped with learning and internship facilities, laboratories and practice rooms for students, and also has a public relations and research development office to support graduates who are looking for jobs.

Vietnamese doctor honoured in Russia

Nguyen Xuan Binh, a Vietnamese professor and doctor from the north central province of Nghe An, was honoured with the title of “Corresponding Academician” by the European Academy of Natural Sciences for his contributions in medical care and his practical research at an international medical forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.

At the forum, Binh’s research on high blood pressure was presented. The 1,500-page study was recently published by the Viet Nam Medical Publishing House.

Workers hospitalised after food poisoning

Around 120 workers from the Shingmark Co in Bau Xeo Industrial Zone in the southern province of Dong Nai were hospitalised on Thursday with food poisoning.

Workers said that they had eaten eggs, fried bean-sprouts and fish for lunch, before suffering from stomachaches, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The hospital took food and water samples from patients to analyse, according to the vice director of the provincial general hospital, Ngo Quang Tuan.

In late afternoon of the same day, some workers had recovered and were discharged.

Ha Noi wholesale poultry market to open soon

Ha Noi People’s Committee has urged the Thuong Tin District authorities to complete preparations for the opening of the Ha Vy wholesale poultry market by the end of this month.

The construction of the market began in 2008 with a total investment of VND34 billion (US$1.6 million). The market is expected to help ensure food safety for poultry consumption in the city.

Since the beginning of this year, authorities have uncovered and destroyed 12 tonnes of unquarrantined low-quality chicken and a truck load of cattle offal, according to reports from the city’s Animal Health Department.

Provide by Vietnam Travel

SOCIETY IN BRIEF 19/6 - Social - News |  vietnam travel company

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