Social News 12/9

Social security for migrant workers will be the theme of the 9th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML) hosted by the Laos Government in November this year. The information was announced in the national preparatory meeting for the forum held by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) in Hà Nội yesterday.

VN prepares for migrant labour forum

Social security for migrant workers will be the theme of the 9th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML) hosted by the Laos Government in November this year.
The information was announced in the national preparatory meeting for the forum held by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) in Hà Nội yesterday.

The AFML has been organised annually since 2008. Those gathered discuss, share experiences, build consensus on the protection of migrant workers’ issues under the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers – the Cebu Declaration in 2007 – and conclude with the adoption of recommendations that bring life to the provisions of the Cebu Declaration.

Lê Kim Dung, the director of the Department of International Cooperation under the MoLISA, said the purpose of the national preparatory meeting was to check national-level activities to implement recommendations of the previous forums.

Experts at the meeting also discussed the recommendations which Việt Nam will present at the coming AFML, when other ASEAN countries present their own recommendations.

Migrant workers make considerable contributions to countries’ economic growth and sustainable development. So Việt Nam and other ASEAN countries are paying increasing attention to protecting the legal rights and social security of migrant workers and their families, according to Dung.

Chang-Hee Lee, the director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Office for Việt Nam, said ILO supports preparatory meetings like this to allow wider participation of national social partners, civil society organisations and related government ministries in ASEAN.

“When migrant workers are better protected by legal frameworks and effective enforcement, safe and profitable migration is more likely to make economic and social contributions to Việt Nam and to our region,” Lee said.

Weekly Hà Nội food checks ordered

The chairperson and vice chairperson of district and commune level People’s Committees in Hà Nội have been ordered to conduct weekly food hygiene and safety inspections.

“It is unacceptable if you only sit at your desk and direct others to make sure food is hygienic and safe,” said vice chairman of the Hà Nội People’s Committee, Nguyễn Văn Sửu at a meeting on Thursday.

The meeting was organised to assess activities to ensure food hygiene and safety in the city during the first eight months of this year.

At the meeting, Nguyễn Khắc Hiền, director of the city’s Health Department, said more than 12,000 violations of food hygiene and safety were recorded in the first eight months of this year. The fines received from violators added up to VNĐ22 billion (US$986,000).

Hiền said controlling the quality of vegetables and fruit in traditional markets was still proving difficult. In addition, a high risk of food poisoning caused by unhygienic and unsafe food at canteens still existed.

A representative from the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said canteens in several companies and schools were discovered to buy meat, vegetables and fruit from wholesale markets instead of co-operatives that supply safe foods. This was because of the higher prices if they bought food from co-operatives, he said.

After hearing reports from representatives of authorised agencies, Sửu asked every commune to assign one staff member to take responsibility for issues related to food hygiene and safety.

Ensuring food hygiene and safety was very important, as it relates to people’s heath and to our nation’s future generations, he said.

Sửu required all local schools to buy safe food for their canteens. Principals would take personal responsibility if any cases of poisoning occurred.

In a related move, the Ministry of Health officially introduced its hotline to receive comments on food hygiene and safety violations across the country on Thursday.

If anyone has a complaint about food hygiene or safety they can contact the hotline on 043 2321 556 or via tiepnhantinvipham@vfa.gov.vn.

The hotline is part of an attempt by the national health sector to fix issues related to food hygiene and safety. The issue is a hot topic that many people are very concerned about.

Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the Việt Nam Food Administration – the agency assigned to receive and deal with complaints about food hygiene and safety – said the agency would work hard to identify and deal with violators.

Statistics from the ministry showed that over 2,900 people suffered from food poisoning nation-wide with eight fatal cases in the first eight months of this year.

Homemade cakes raise regulation queries

With affordable prices and diverse flavours, homemade moon cakes have become a favourite in the capital city.

As the mid-Autumn Festival approaches, online cake shops-run by small-scale producers-are booming, advertising their products with a wide range of flavours and fresh ingredients.

Many consumers have switched to to homemade sweets away from mass-produced products, calling the homemade goods more healthy, hygienic and safe.

Nguyễn Thu Trang, resident in Hà Nội’s Tôn Đức Thắng Street, said she no longer purchased the cakes from big companies, calling their flavours less delicious and fresh than the home-made ones.

“The expiry date of the mass-produced cakes last over a month, while the homemade that I’ve bought last only ten days. I was told that they have no preservatives or vacuum seal”.

“The taste of the cakes are totally different. They are sweet and small enough to enjoy the whole cake,” she said.

Moon cakes are a traditional treat for celebrants, especially children, during the fall celebration. Thus, she only bought cakes that were ensured the safety and hygiene criteria, she added.

However, not all home-made cakes are safe.

Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the Ministry of Health’s Food Safety and Hygiene Department, said that big enterprise moon cakes must be tested for quality and granted food safety certificates before being sold at the market.

In the meantime, most home-made products did not face regulation, posing risks for consumers’ health, he said.

Along Hàng Buồm Street, a street known for selling sweets, or Đồng Xuân and Hôm markets, raw materials for moon cakes of baked or sticky rice ones are available.

Tens of fillings, ranging from expensive ones-like fish fins and barbeque chicken-to the traditional bean paste, salted eggs, sausage, lotus seeds, and jam are displayed outdoor. Powder to make the cover of the cakes is put into a plastic bag without the labelling of origin, expiry dates or information on manufacturers.

A shop owner at Đồng Xuân Market said that raw materials are divided into small bags and are cheap and easy to sell.

Explaining the lack of labelling, she said raw materials were packed in big bags, and sellers usually divided them into small ones, thus were not labelled.

She added that all of her products were home-made, and they were just done to serve this moon festival. Thus, she maintained that everything was safe and fresh.

Under reporters’ observation, grinded lotus seed for the filling of cake is sold at VNĐ130,000 per kilo while raw dry seed is VNĐ100,000 ($4.3). The sausage is sold at VNĐ80,000 per kilo while pork is VNĐ90,000 ($3.9) per kilo. Each kilo can make between 20 and 30 cakes.

Vũ Thanh Thủy, deputy head of the market’s management board, said that traders only sold raw materials of moon cakes for some days before the moon festival.

The board has worked with the city’s market watch to disseminate traders information concerning the food safety and hygiene regulations and inspections, but she admitted that the task was still loose.

Nguyễn Văn Tiến, doctor at the National Institute of Nutrition, said that consumers could hardly tell whether the cakes were made from hygienic materials or not. It could bring risks of food poison for consumers without having signs.

He suggested that consumers should carefully choose home-made cakes to assure their safety. Any products, traditionally or industrially-made, must have proper labelling as required.

Barriers preventing consumer access to safe food

To ensure safe meals for her two-year-old daughter, twice a week Trần Mai Linh goes to a clean food supply store to buy vegetables and pork to cook for her child.

Linh, 28, from Hà Nội’s Ba Đình District, said that she often bought a small amount of clean food for her daughter only and that other family members have to use products from traditional markets.

“I want to buy clean food for my whole family, but I can’t afford to due to the high price of those goods,” Linh said.

Demand for safe food is huge after recent concerns over unsafe food.

However, the price of those goods is higher than goods sold at traditional markets, and it becomes a barrier to consumers.

This is a fact. Price is being blamed for the failure of consumers to access healthy food and it is also one of many reasons to hold back the output of these goods.

Many customers are not ready to pay 30 to 50 per cent more for vegetables, pork and other goods at safe food stores and supermarkets because their incomes remain too low.

Buyers have to pay more money for clean food due to the costs of production, management, certification and transportation.

Most of the companies that produce safe food have to invest a large amount of money in infrastructure and new technology for growing and food quality inspections, good seedlings, and the process of preservation after harvesting and packing.

All those costs have pushed the price of safe goods higher.

Dr Vũ Đình Ánh, an economic expert told Thời Báo Kinh Doanh (Business Times) that there were too many intermediary steps that contributed to the increase in prices.

For instance, Ánh noted that farmers’ dragon fruit were transferred to intermediaries, traders, then retailers and finally at the end to the customer.

The price of 1kg of dragon fruit is increased by VNĐ6,000-7,000 for shipping fees and intermediaries only, he said.

The price is then increased sharply by 40-50 per cent by retailers, the expert said.

Director of Biggreen Safe Food Việt Nam Limited Company, Nguyễn Tiến Hưng, also recognised the cost of transportation has pushed the price of goods higher.

He shared that his company had to transport products from HCM City to Hà Nội by plane to ensure the freshness of many kinds of fruits, and that pushed the price higher.

Lack of co-operation between producers and traders has also made prices increase, experts said.

Most safe food distributors have to pay more for shipping because they only take a small amount of goods to sell, said Đỗ Ngọc Trâm, director of Greenlife Limited Company.

To tackle the high prices, some clean food supply stores in Hà Nội have joined together into a group, she said.

The group members have found safe food sources and together move large amounts to save on transport fees, Trâm said.

Food safety must be ensured from the production stage, which must also get businesses to link up with farmers to build a supply chain, she added. However, the links between farmers and businesses are still limited.

Many experts said the intermediary steps should be reduced to make safe food cheaper.

The State should create more favourable conditions and support linkages between businesses and producers, experts said.

Linh and many consumers, especially those on low incomes, still have to wait for agencies to join hands and help them gain greater access to safe products.

First student fine art exhibition to open in HN

The first fine arts exhibition by students from cultural and art institutions throughout the country will be held here between September 15 and 24.

The event will showcase more than 150 artworks of painting, graphics and sculpture. The theme of the show is “Praising the country and people”.

The works will be displayed at Việt Nam Fine Arts University on 42 Yết Kiêu Street.

The jury will give 9 first, 18 second and 27 third prizes to individuals, plus collective prizes to the three institutions with the most prizewinning works.

“The event aims to judge the capability of students at art institutions for concerned agencies to propose and issue appropriate policies to enhance the quality of training,” said Vi Kiến Thành, head of the Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition Department, a member of the jury.

Vietnam taxi firm offers truck driver who saved brake-failed bus car as gift

A Vietnamese taxi operator has offered to give a cab as gift to a truck driver, who bravely saved a bus with brake problems on its way down a mountain pass in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on September 6.

The VND450 million (US$20,089) gift is to honor Phan Van Bac for his heroic action, Mai Linh Group chairman Ho Huy said on September 9.

“Bac’s heroic action should be learnt, honored and praised upon,” Huy said.

“Mai Linh Group will be proud to have a taxi driver like Bac.”

On September 6, a 42-seater passenger bus operated by travel firm Tan Ha was traveling from Bao Loc City downward the Bao Loc Pass when its brakes malfunctioned.

Noticing that the driver seemed to lose control of the passenger bus, Bac, who was driving his truck ahead, reduced his speed and let the vehicle cling onto his truck’s back to slow it down.

The two vehicles safely passed the pass and eventually stopped at a flat road section. The front part of the bus was severely damaged and the truck’s back was distorted after the incident.

Bac was later awarded a Golden Trophy by the National Board for Traffic Safety.

Tran Thi Ha, head of national board of awarding and encouragement, said that the organization had received the Lam Dong Province People’s Committee’s proposal of awarding Bac the Merit of Bravery.

HCM City determined to become smart city: chairman

Ho Chi Minh City administration is determined to build the southern Vietnamese metropolis into a smart city, municipal chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said on September 9.

Officials of various municipal departments gathered at yesterday meeting to discuss a grand scheme for the city to go smart, with the city’s Department of Information and Communications revealing that a detailed proposal to do so will be available later this year.

The proposal will be finalized and submitted to the municipal administration for approval on December 15, department director Le Thai Hy said.

The plan poses three critical questions that need to be answered by October 15.

The issues include which aspects the city needs to prioritize, and what protocols it should undertake to achieve the goal of becoming a smart city. The third issue could be about environment, health care, flood prevention, or public security, Hy added.

According to director Hy, the first priority is to build an electronic infrastructure to facilitate public administration, and the next one is to improve the transportation infrastructure.

According to the current agenda, the first draft of the smart city building plan will be available for pubic feedback on November 21.

The plan, with a timeline of 2017-2020 and could be extended to 2025, will focus on many key issues such as electronic government, planning, transportation, health care, public security, wastewater treatment, construction, environment, education, finance, agriculture, and telecommunication.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, deputy chairman of the municipal administration, said the three main issues which need to be solved first are building a data center, having an IT foundation, and applying technology to all areas.

Tuyen added that there are many investors wanting to partner with the city to develop a ‘smart Ho Chi Minh City’.

Regarding the tech area, municipal officials have agreed to have VNPT, the Vietnam’s leading telecom firm, partner with Microsoft to develop the city’s IT infrastructure.

“The long-term goal is to build a sustainable metropolis,” Tuyen said.

“All the technological solutions will be utilized to solve urgent problems of the city.”

The deputy chairman added, “If we are not determined in solving these problems, there will be no better city.”

The city’s chairman, Phong, demanded that municipal officials be more resolute in carrying out the project, even though it may seem too ambitious at the moment.

He further cited examples of previous leaders, whose strong determination led to the successful establishment of the Quang Trung Software Park and the Saigon Hi-Tech Park.

“Without visionary people who constantly strive to overcome obstacles, we will not have a city like Ho Chi Minh today,” the chairman said.

“If we decide to do something, we should carry it out with determination and perseverance.

“When experiencing failures, we need to learn the lessons and then move on.”

Vietnam police seize massive gemstone found by farmer

Lam Dong authorities have seized a large gemstone that a farmer found in his coffee farm in the Central Highlands province.

Bui Tanh Binh, a local official, said the 20-ton gemstone will be examined before any further action is taken. Some experts believe it is chalcedony.

Local media reported that Pham Van Chinh found the raw gemstone when digging in his coffee farm in Bao Lam District. He then pulled it up without reporting to local authorities as required.

Finders of high-value objects are eligible for an amount equal to 10 months of basic salary (currently VND1.21 million) and half of the exceeding value, while the rest belongs to the state.

Last year, a farmer and his neighbor found a 30-ton chalcedony stone in his farm in Dak Nong Province. The farmer, Nguyen Chi Thanh, then sold the gemstone to Truong Quoc Hao who later attempted to sell it to a collector in Dak Lak. Hao was caught and the stone was seized by the police.

Dak Nong police have proposed fines of VND550 million (US$25,540), but the punitive measure has not been taken so far, amid debates over entitlement to valuable discoveries.

Nurse practitioners transforming Vietnam healthcare

Many children, especially the poor and those living in rural and medically underserved areas of Vietnam, lack access to health care services, says Pham Duc Muc, president of the Vietnam Nurses Association.

But there is a revolution underfoot across this great nation, said Mr Muc, speaking at a recent seminar in Ho Chi Minh City, that will change the face of healthcare forever for the better, that has been set in motion by the Vietnam Government.

The Government believes that experienced registered nurses can improve children’s health if they are trained to provide many of the health care services that have historically been provided only by physicians.

So the Ministry of Health is collaborating with members of the private and civil society sectors across the nation to greatly expand the nurse practitioner (NP) program to all of the provinces.

NPs, said Mr Muc, are registered nurses who have completed specialized advanced graduate education, passed national board examinations, and are licensed to manage a broad range of health problems.

NPs are licensed to do physical exams and other medical procedures medical doctors routinely perform such as order and interpret results from blood tests and X-rays, diagnose and treat illnesses, and write prescriptions.

He said the country has had a NP program in place, but until now it has only been implemented on a limited scale. The ratio of NPs to doctors, according to the Ministry of Health, is currently 1.8 to 1 but plans now are to expand the ratio to 3.5 to 1 by 2020.

In other words, plans are to roughly double the number of NPs over the next four years, a monumental undertaking, that if successful, would forever change the face of healthcare.

On a typical working day, today, an NP on the day shift cares for eight patients and on a night shift the number of patients in some cases expands to 20 as a result of hospital understaffing.

Doubling the number of NPs, noted Mr Muc, would without a doubt exponentially improve the quality of healthcare and provide tens of millions better access to it.

Luong Ngoc Khue, head of Medical Services Administration of the Ministry of Health in turn noted that NPs are authorized to teach as professors and conduct research in colleges of nursing, medicine and public health.

They have also been given authority to organize health fairs, screenings and immunization campaigns in their community and conduct education programs on diet, exercise, smoking cessation and healthy lifestyle.

The latter, he added, would include programs to provide people healthcare advice on managing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, sports injuries, and the like.

According to figures from the Vietnam Nurses Association, he said there are some 120,000 NPs nationwide currently working in hospitals and healthcare clinics, so that – in rough numbers – means there would be an additional 120,000 (bringing the total to 240,000) more job opportunities opening up for the nation’s youth over the next few years.

Like other health care providers, NPs collaborate with other professionals to provide high quality health care services. All of the research in Vietnam to date shows that NPs provide safe, high quality and effective health care.

The hundreds of thousands of satisfied patients seen annually attest to the confidence patients and the government have placed in NP care and that the decision to revolutionize the NP program is highly commendable.

India speeds up highway project connecting with ASEAN

India has proposed establishing a joint task force to study the expansion of a project on the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway connecting with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The proposal was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 14th ASEAN-India Summit in Laos on September 8, the Financial Express reported.

The trilateral highway project is expected be completed in the 2019-2020 period under the direct supervision of the Indian Foreign Ministry.

Once completed, the trilateral highway will open up economic and trade opportunities as well as create further connectivity and integration between India and ASEAN countries.

The four-lane highway is part of a project connecting to the ASEAN East-West Corridor and is regarded an important route linking India and Southeast Asia and beyond.

The 3,200km-long trilateral highway departs from Moreh town, the Indian state of Manipur to end Mae Sot of Thailand via Myanmar’s Tamu, Kalewa, Yargyi, Monya , Mandalay, Meiktila and Myawaddy.

New Swedish ambassador tastes sidewalk iced tea in Hanoi

Newly-appointed Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Pereric Högberg has had a chance to have a stroll around Hanoi, visiting Ngoc Son Temple, and leisurely sipped a cup of iced tea, a typical drink of the Vietnamese capital.

When he first visited Vietnam in 1996, ambassador Högberg was greatly impressed with the diversity of the Vietnamese culture and cuisine, the diplomat told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

He added that the Vietnamese foods are delicious, as they contain less cholesterol content and can be eaten with large amount without causing dyspepsia.

After the maiden visit, Pereric Högberg had wished to go back to Vietnam to work, a desire that finally came true after 20 years.

Ambassador Högberg told Tuoi Tre that during his ambassadorship term, he will strive to further develop the cultural and economic cooperation between Vietnam and Sweden.

According to the diplomat, the Swedish Minister of Trade and a delegation of other Swedish investors will pay a visit to Vietnam on October 5 and 6, looking for investment and trade opportunities.

Ambassador Högberg is married and has two children. He graduated from Uppsala University in 1992 with a major in political sciences.

Before taking the position as the Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam, Högberg was the Deputy Director-General acting as Head of Sweden’s foreign ministry’s Africa Department.

Vietnamese model to judge Miss World Egypt 2016

A Vietnamese model will be a judge in the 2016 Miss World Egypt pageant, Egyptian ambassador to Vietnam has confirmed.

It is her talent, beauty, and experience that made Duong Nguyen Kha Trang, winner of the 2015 Vietnam Supermodel contest, a prime candidate to judge the 2016 Miss World Egypt pageant in Cairo, accroding to ambassador Youssef K Hanna.

Miss World Egypt 2016 is the national selection contest for Egyptian representatives to international beauty pageants including Miss World, Miss Supranational, and Miss Grand International.

This year’s contest will begin on September 14 in Cairo.
Aside from her 2015 Vietnam Supermodel title, Trang’s extensive pageant resume includes a number of international beauty competitions, including the 2016 Miss Eco Universe contest held this past March.

Born 1992, Trang’s impressive academic achievements are a great addition to her ideal model height of 1.79m and 86-61-93 measurements.

In 2008, she achieved the second highest score on the national literary exam for students.

She now is now a third year student at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam’s international relations faculty.

Trang’s professional experience includes working as an interpreter, tour guide, and holding the director of business and diplomatic official positions at an import-export company.

Hanoi concert breathes new life into Asian folk music

An exceptional line-up of musicians took the stage on September 7 at the Vietnam National Academy of Music in Hanoi with a dazzling array of traditional Asian folk music performances.

Local artists Ngo Tra My, Nguyen Thi Hoa Dang and Le Thuy Linh gave stellar performances playing traditional musical instruments including the dan bau, the 16 and 36 chord zither, the Central Highlands t’rung and the two-chord fiddle.

While international musicians Teuku Umar Ilany Bin Teuku Iskandar, Kohei Inoue, Ryohei Inoue and Yamada Michiko also shined brilliantly with their renditions of traditional folk songs from Malaysia and Japan including Trong com (Rice Drum), Umi no michi (The Road of the Sea) and Wau Bulan (Moon-Kite).

Entitled – One Asia 2016 – the concert is part of a series first launched in 2013 that annually travels throughout Japan and Southeast Asian region. It is next scheduled for December 7 at the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore.

Experts: Vietnam in good standing to woo Australia, NZ tourists

Vietnam is well-positioned to attract tourists from Australia and New Zealand, leading domestic and foreign tourism experts said at a seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 9.

The seminar was within the framework of the International Travel Expo 2016 underway in the southern metropolis.

Dinh Ngoc Duc, Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s Market Department, said Australia is among the top 10 sources of tourist arrival in Vietnam.

Australian and New Zealand visitors usually stay for two weeks and spend 1,677 USD and 1,592 USD on average, respectively.

Notably, Australians prefer resort vacations and tend to travel year-round, with each stay lasting one to four weeks.

Oliver Martin from Canada’s Twenty31 tourism consulting company suggested Vietnam target long-stay and well-off vacationers, giving them true experiences of local lifestyle and culture rather than introducing general information

Honeywell Educators at Space Academy 2017 open for applications

Teachers of mathematics and science around the world, including Vietnam, are invited to apply for the 2017 Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA), an all-expense paid, weeklong professional development programme sponsored by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) and its employees at the US Space & Rocket Centre(USSRC) in Huntsville, Alabama.

Created in partnership with the US Space & Rocket Centre in 2004, HESA is designed to address the trends in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by providing teachers with new technical skills and teaching techniques that help motivate students around the world.

Since the programme’s inception, more than 3 million students have been reached and inspired by over 2,576 HESA alumni from 56 countries.

Last June, six Vietnamese teachers out of the more than 200 teachers from 25 countries were selected to attend the 2016 HESA programme. This fourth consecutive year marks the record number of participants from Vietnam since the first participation in 2013.

“Honeywell Educators at Space Academy opened a new door for me to broaden my understanding of space science, experience amazing activities and obtain new perspectives on STEM teaching,” said Mai Thi Kim Tuyen, biology teacher at Thanh Cong Secondary School, Hanoi, who has just returned from HESA 2016. “I would like to thank Honeywell for this invigorating opportunity, and now I am on the way to amplify the STEM spirit from HESA to my beloved students.”

Mai Trang Thanh, president of Honeywell Indochina, said the remarkable number of Vietnamese finalists this year demonstrates the outstanding merit and better access of Vietnamese teachers to the programme.

“I am very pleased and expect them to acquire as much knowledge and teaching methods as possible,” she said. “Ultimately, the beneficiaries of the programme are thousands of high school students – the future of our country. To continue the impact of HESA beyond the classroom for the sustainable development of Vietnam is what Honeywell always heads to.”

Each successful applicant will receive a full scholarship following a rigorous and lengthy application and selection process involving competing teachers from around the world. Scholarships include tuition for the five-day programme, round-trip airfare, meals, accommodations, programme materials, and flight suits, all sponsored by Honeywell and contributions from Honeywell employees.

During the week-long programme, educators participate in 45 hours of intensive classroom, laboratory, and rigorous training, focusing on space science and exploration including astronaut-style exercises, and attended seminars, listened to teachers of previous years talk about their experience in applying the programme’s knowledge. Educators learn through simulated astronaut training and activities designed to promote life-long learning in a classroom setting.

Eligible teachers can submit the online application to HESA 2017 from September 1 until November 11, 2016. Acceptance notifications will be made during the week of January 9, 2017. The week-long programme will run twice from June 14 until the 27, 2017, at the US Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

Specially, from January 9 to February 10, 2017, all 2004 – 2014 alumni can grasp the opportunity to return to the programme by applying for 2017 HESA ambassadors. During each of the two weeks, two ambassadors will be selected to lead the programme at the US Space & Rocket Centre.

Autumn Book Fair kicks off in Hanoi

The Autumn Book Fair 2016 kicked off at the Thong Nhat Park, Hanoi, on September 9 with the participation of nearly 60 publishers, post offices and education-training establishments in 70 booths.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister of Information and Communication Truong Minh Tuan said organising the autumn book fair 2016 and other book fairs would create a series of book-related cultural events.

The five-day book fair is expected to create closer bond between books and readers, towards building the reading culture among the community.

Visitors to the book fair will have a chance to exchange with renowned people like Professor Ngo Bao Chau, Doctor of Literature Doan Huong or critic Pham Xuan Nguyen.

Those who are interested in domestic and international issues can join Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former of the Government’s Border Committee, in a workshop on the East Sea dispute in the light of international law.

Board set up to canvass for cuisine promotion association

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on September 9 launched a board to canvass for the establishment of the Vietnam Cultural and Cuisine Association with the goal of promoting Vietnamese food culture to the world.

The launch was within the framework of the International Travel Expo 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The board will call on experts, researchers and organisations working in the fields of culture and cuisine to participate in the association.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, head of the board and Director General of Vietravel company, said that the birth of the association will give a boost to efforts to make the Vietnamese cuisine into a national brand.

The association will serve as a promotion channel to improve the food industry in particular and the tourism sector in general, he added.

Exhibition on islands in East Sea arrives in Son La

An exhibition entitled “Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos belong to Vietnam – historic and legal evidence” reached northern Son La province on September 9, after travelling through various localities nationwide.

The exhibition aims to raise awareness, unity, and sense of responsibility of people as well as Vietnamese overseas, particularly young people, in protecting and affirming Vietnam’s sovereignty over two archipelagos Hoang Sa and Truong Sa via published historic materials.

Materials, documents, objects, and publications at the exhibition are divided into 12 groups and nearly 100 maps that have been published so far by researchers, domestic and international scholars.

Materials in the exhibition include Chinese maps, Vietnamese nom-language maps and French versions issued by the Vietnamese feudal dynasties and French administrations in Indochina from the 17th to early 20th century, affirming the assertion, exercise and protection of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two archipelagos.

It also features copies of documents issued by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 1975, claiming and exercising Vietnam’s sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa and other islands within Vietnam’s territory.

Noteworthy are four sets of maps and 30 maps, which are published by the Chinese dynasties and governments via different historic periods, showing that China has never managed the two islands.

Materials displayed at the exhibition form part of historic evidence and legal grounds proving Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two archipelagos.

The exhibition will take place until September 13 and all materials and objects will be gifted to Son La province for organising similar events in the locality.

Draft on way for hospitals to appoint CEOs

Public hospitals will be able to appoint their own CEOs under a draft plan on autonomy in public health services announced by Mr. Le Thanh Cong, Deputy Head of the Department of Planning and Finance under the Ministry of Health (MoH).

With financial autonomy, public health service units must also a establish management council and supervisory board. Mr. Cong was quoted as saying that these are new practices in Vietnam and financial autonomy at public hospitals needs further research and studies of private domestic and foreign hospitals.

MoH has sent delegations to the US, Thailand and Belgium to study management models among large international healthcare groups. It will shortly send a delegation to Singapore to look at hospital management in the country, Mr. Cong said, and in 2017 will submit a draft plan to the government.

CEOs who are good at management more so than at health issues are being appointed in greater numbers around the world, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said on August 18 at a conference on improving management at hospitals.

Vietnam has many professors and doctors proficient in their specialized fields but lacking the skills or enthusiasm to be healthcare managers. When they do take up managerial positions their absence is often felt in research and teaching.

Ms. Tien has said many times that Vietnam can no longer insist that CEOs of hospitals be professors, associate professors, or doctors. The CEO of a hospital needs to be proficient at administrative, human resources, financial, and infrastructure management.

She urged that Vietnam reconsider its thinking on hospital management to improve healthcare quality. After appointing a doctor as CEO, many hospitals find they have lost a healthcare expert while acquiring an inexperienced manager.

The are 24 public hospitals in Vietnam seeking financial autonomy. Nine of these are managed by MoH, including Bach Mai Hospital, Cho Ray Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital, the Eye Hospital, the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Otorhinolaryngology Hospital, the National Hospital of Endocrinology, the National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology in Hanoi, and the National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology in Ho Chi Minh City.

HCM City party leader encourages South Korea to become top investor

Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Dinh La Thang yesterday said that the city would create favorable conditions for South Korea to become the top investor in the city as per commitment by its Consul General to HCMC.

He made the statement while talking to nearly 100 Korean businesses at the South Korea-Vietnam Business Forum yesterday.

The seminar was organized within the framework of a week long visit to South Korea by the city’s high level delegation led by the secretary from September 7-14.

Citing the consul general’s commitment that South Korea would rise to the top investor during his term of office in HCMC, Mr. Thang said that the current position of the fourth largest investor was humble compared to the huge potential between Vietnam and South Korea and the goodwill of their enterprises.

He urged the two sides to make greater efforts to gain the target, in which businesses play a particularly important role.

Korean firms were supplied with information about HCMC’s investment policies and projects calling for investors at the forum which was organized by the South Korean Consulate General in HCMC, the city Department of Planning and Investment, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the HCMC Investment and Trade Promotion Center and the Korea Venture Business Association (KOVA).

Four cooperation memorandum of understandings were signed between HCMC and Korean firms in fields chemical industry, food processing, support industry and infrastructure construction.

At the event, Secretary Dinh La Thang expressed his pleasure to see the broad participation of businesses at the event, showing Korean firms’ interest in Vietnam’s investment environment and HCMC firms’ goodwill and activeness in boosting cooperative operations with South Korea.

According to Mr. Thang, HCMC is striving its best to steadily hold the city’s position of the country’s driving force and continue leading the southern region’s development and play the role as motivation for national strategic targets.

Our bigger aspiration is to regain the city’s position of a large hub in economics, finance, commerce, science-technology in Southeast Asia,” he said.

On the way to reach its targets, HCMC always welcomes foreign investors, facilitates their operations and consider their successes as the city’s, he affirmed.

On the same day, Mr. Thang met leaders of seven large groups in South Korea including CJ, Hyosung, GS, Lotte, Hanwha, E-mart and Samsung, who reported to him on their scales and performance in Vietnam.

Estimating Korean businesses to be one of the most successful foreign investors in Vietnam, Mr. Thang pledged further favorable conditions for them as per the spirit of agreements reached during the talks between during the talks between General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong and Rok president Park Geun-hye as well as senior leaders of the two countries.

He wished them further successes and hoped them to make practical contributions to the development of Vietnam and the friendship relationship between the two nations via more cooperative projects.

HCMC Medicine University equipped with “smart classrooms”

As per an initiative within the framework of the Ministry of Health’s educational innovation program, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy has received the Smart School model from Samsung lately, a program which will bring students more opportunities to interact in class.

To satisfy the demand of teaching and learning, the smart school model is comprised of two main parts. The first part includes the introduction of ‘hardware,’ which includes interactive classrooms with state-of-the-art equipment. The second one includes lesson content building up by using specialized software and also training for teachers and students that familiarize them with the new teaching and learning models.

Interactive classrooms designed with intelligent screens and management software will be suitable for different learning methods, with the ability to organize each style into groups, easily changed into blocks as in traditional methods or separated individuals.

In addition to the presentation of interactive lessons with images, sounds, video clips, and movies, other types of images with specific characteristics for medical students, such as models of histology and muscles in the human body displayed in 3D with ‘strip,’ ‘separate,’ and ‘rotate’ features, allow students to visually observe in a way that is closer to reality.

Director of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Tuan Diep said the modern equipment and learning methods is a new trial in the ways of teaching and learning for medicine teachers and students, adding that the model has received positive feedback after it has been applied in many universities around the world including Harvard Medical School, hence, school managers hope that students will have exciting experiences and efficiency with smart classrooms.

Drug management agency checks toxic chemical agents in cleaning products

The Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV) yesterday said that it has asked cleaning products manufacturers and importers to report if they are using cleaning chemical agents that have been banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since the begining of this month.

Early in September, FDA banned 2,100 cleaning products in the US market because producers have used 19 toxic chemicals mostly triclosan as an ingredient in cleaning products. FDA said cleaners were no better than regular cleaners, and could be harmful.

FDA gave companies one year to reformulate their products without triclosan, triclocarban, and 17 other compounds included in the new rule since September, 2016. The agency also agreed to give manufacturers more time to prove three other substances are safe and effective.

Currently, some Vietnamese producers said that before they had used the banned chemicals in manufacturing antibacteria soap but they did replace these substance by others in 2014.

Vietnam joined in the Combination Convention in the cosmetic management which has been signed by countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on September 2nd, 2003 (commonly called ASEAN Cosmetic Convention), the problem will be discussed at a meeting in November to issue a regulation to handle it.

Hotline set up for receiving information of food safety violations

The Department of Food Safety has set up a hot line to receive information of food safety violations, said head of the department Nguyen Thanh Phong.

Any individual or organization can call the hotline 04-32321556 when they discovered food safety violations. They can also send complaints to email tiepnhantinvipham@vfa.gov.vn

The department will inspect and handle reported cases.

Venomous snakes bite residents in Mekong delta

Many residents in the Mekong delta have been hospitalized recently after being bitten by poisonous reptile ‘ran luc’ (green snake), with the scientific name of Trimeresurus albolabris.

The 121 Military Hospital in the Mekong delta city of Can Tho said that it has received many people who were bitten by the venomous snake. One of them is Ms. Huynh Thi Ba, 83 in Binh Thuy District in Can Tho City was bitten by the snake when she opened the gate. Doctors provided intensive care to her because she has breathing problem and high blood pressure.

52 year old Luu Van Loi in the Mekong delta province of Tra Vinh has been hospitalized because his tongue and face were bitten by a rattle snake while drinking rice wine in his front yard. He was rushed to the infirmary for treatment.

By statistic of the hospital, around 100 people in the Mekong delta are reported bitten by the snake monthly averagely. Up to 6 or 7 people were hospitalized a day for the reason.

The green pit viper, a species of venomous snake, has appeared in urban residential areas in the Vietnam’s central region at an alarming rate, slithering into kitchens, bedrooms, gardens, and schools.

Inhabitants must be aware of the creature.

Non-communicative disease escalating

As per a survey conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, while the rate of contagious disease is dropping, non-communicative diseases (or chronic diseases) are rising.

The Department yesterday held a meeting to announce a nationwide survey of risk factors of non-communicative diseases 2015. According to the survey, the proportion of chronic diseases increased from 60 percent in 2006 to 71.6 percent in 2012.

Mortality rate from non-infectious diseases accounts for 73 percent of the whole deaths because of all diseases in the country. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the Southeast Asian nation, next are cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

Risk factors such as person’s background; lifestyle and environment are known to increase the likelihood of certain non-communicable diseases. Non-transmissible diseases leaped quickly in Vietnam involve in smoking, lack of exercises, alcohol abuse and improper diet.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the rise of these non-contagious diseases lead to increase in medical cost and overloading in medical facilities. Treatment cost of non-communicative averagely is 40-50 times higher than that of contagious disease because doctors must use hi-technological treatment, specific drugs and prolonged treatment time. Worse, these diseases usually produce side-effects.

Survey result showed that 77.3 percent of male and 11 percent of female drink alcohol and the number of both gender having alcohol tends to soar in next time.

Also as per the survey, adults eat veggies and fruits less than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 400 gram a day. Additionally, a person averagely consume 9.4 gram of salt per day, two times higher than WHO’s recommendation of less than 5 gram.

One third of the population do not practice physical exercise while WHO advised every body to do this at least 150 minutes a week.

Moreover, the survey pointed out 15.6 percent of Vietnamese people are obese and the rate of obesity in urban districts. Additionally, the rate of people with high blood pressure is 18.9 percent and 30.2 percent of adults suffer high blood cholesterol.

Man gets seven years in jail for extorting drink producer

The HCM City People’s Supreme Court yesterday upheld the seven-year jail sentence for a man in Tien Giang Province for extorting money from a local beverage maker. The man claimed to have discovered a fly inside an unopened energy drink bottle.

According to Tuoitre Newspaper, on December 3, 2014, Vo Van Minh, 36, found a fly in one of the Number 1 bottles at his restaurant in Tien Giang Province, and decided to ask its producer, Tan Hiep Phat Group, to pay VND500 million (USD23,300) in return for his silence.

He had demanded VND1 billion (USD46,600) before halving it following a compromise with the firm.

Minh was about to receive the cash from a company representative on January 27, 2015 when police officers showed up to arrest him.

Tan Hiep Phat had notified local officials of what it considered a blackmail attempt before the representative met him.

The Tien Giang court last December ruled that it was extortion, and sentenced the man for a seven-year jail term.

Even though the man did not receive the money, it had already been a criminal offence when the company “was threatened so that it had to agree to pay the sum,” Tien Giang court reported.

At the court of appeal yesterday in HCM City, Minh continued to claim his innocence but the judges said that it was clear an act of extortion so upheld the seven-year jail sentence.

Minh did not ask for a reduced sentence but just claimed to be innocent, but the judge said there were enough grounds to sentence to him.

Tan Hiep Phat Group, based in the southern province of Binh Duong, is the maker of the Number 1 energy drink and Dr Thanh herbal tea.

A wave of consumer boycotts of Tan Hiep Phat’s products followed the dispute with Minh, which led to the company admitting to suffering losses of around VND2 trillion (USD89.29 million).

Mass fish deaths in Thanh Hoa

Up to 47.5 tonnes of fish raised in floating cages in the northern central province of Thanh Hoa’s Tinh Gia District have been found dead, causing major losses for local farmers.

According to local authorities, the fish deaths have affected 207 floating cages owned by 66 households who raise fish in the Dao Ngoc Bay area.

Tran Van Thac in Nam Son Village said that his family had lost five tonnes of fish with an estimated loss of around VND400 million (USD19,000). The heaviest dead fish weighing 6 kilos, while the rest had an average weight of 3.5 kilos.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment and environmental police have taken fish samples for tests.

Dong Van Tuan in Trung Son Village said that this was the first time he had seen this phenomenon during his decade of raising fish in floating cages. Within a short time, more than eight tonnes of his family’s fish suddenly died, leaving them with losses of VND500 million.

Many local residents also said that never before the bay water had changed colour. They urged management agencies to find the real causes.

In mid-August this year nearly 70 tonnes of fish raised in floating cages along the Ma River in Thanh Hoa Province also died, bringing total losses of VND4.8 billion to local breeders. The cause of the fish deaths has yet to be identified.

Vietnamese French director Tran Anh Hung meets local fans

Vietnamese French director Tran Anh Hung had a talk with local fans at the launch of the novel Net duyen goa phu (L’élegance des veuve) by Alice Ferney on Nguyen Van Binh book street in District 1, HCMC.

The Vietnamese version of the novel published by Nha Nam and the Vietnam Writers’ Association includes a script adapted from the novel by Tran Anh Hung for his movie Eternité which was premiered on Wednesday night at BHD Star Cineplex ICON 68 at the Bitexco Financial Tower in District 1.

According to Hung, the novel has an unclear plot but it has lots of emotions and poetic delight about time and life.

“When adapting the novel into the movie script, I didn’t try to create a story for my movie but tended to expose the poetic features of this work. What concerned me the most was how to spread the sense of beauty to viewers instead of trying to help them figure out the movie’s meaning,” Hung added.

Eternité has a total budget of US$14 million. Hung said that after completing the script, it took him three years to search for investment funds and producers.

Eternité stars three French actresses, Mélanie Laurent, Audrey Tautou and Bérénice Bejo, and art director Tran Nu Yen Khe and producer Christophe Rossignon.

First university in HCMC has smart school program

Samsung Electronics Company and the HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HUMP) have introduced the “Smart School” project as part of the educational innovation program of the Ministry of Health.

The project is an corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity of Samsung in the field of education.

With advice from experts of educational organization HAIVN (Health Advancement in Vietnam), including faculty from Beth Israel Medical Center Deadoness (BIDMC), and demands for increasing teaching and learning, especially for the health sector, the model “smart lecture” was introduced at HUMP. It includes two main parts, which are interactive classrooms with modern equipment, and lessons prepared with specialized software and training for teachers and students in order to help them become familiar with new teaching and learning models.

Equipment in the classrooms includes Interactive White Board (IWB) with classroom management software, Samsung tablets, the internet system and screens.

Teaching contents have been gradually transformed from the “static” content to “dynamic” content with images, videos and movies.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter livens up for Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival kicked off at Hanoi’s Old Quarter on September 9 with a wide range of activities bringing joy and cheer to children.

The activities are taking place until September 15 at a number of venues along Hang Ma Street, the environs of Dong Xuan Market and pedestrian spaces in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Visitors to the event can learn more about traditional products dedicated to the full moon festival while trying to make kites, to he (toy figurines) and Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns.

Nguyen Huu Kiem of a kite club in Hong Ha Commune, Dan Phuong District, Hanoi, said that the members of his club wanted to teach children how to make and play with traditional kites by themselves, encouraging them to preserve and promote their ancestors’ practice.

A photo exhibition themed “The Mid-Autumn Festival in the early 20th Century” and an installation on how Hanoians celebrate the festival are being organised at the ancient house at 87 Ma May Street.

Meanwhile, water puppet performances are delivered for free to the public at Kim Ngan Temple at 42-44 Hang Bac Street, the Hanoi Old Quarter Culture Exchange Centre at 50 Dao Duy Tu Street and the Information Centre for Hanoi’s Old Quarter at 28 Hang Buom Street.

According to Tran Thuy Lan, Deputy Director of Hanoi’s Old Quarter managing board, the activities aimed to preserve traditional cultural values while providing children with a venue to enjoy a typical Mid-Autumn Festival atmosphere.

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