The development of eco-friendly agriculture and ways to boost the production of organic vegetables were the major topics of a seminar held in Hanoi on May 8.
The seminar was jointly held by the Vietnam Farmers’ Association (VFA) and the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development.
Speaking at the event, VFA Vice President Ha Phuc Mich said organic agriculture is seen as the most effective way to ensure sustainability of the ecosystem and organic vegetables are a sought after agricultural product.
Delegates at the event stressed the increasing consumption trend of organic vegetables worldwide, especially in developing countries, thanks to their benefits to human health and the environment.
They also discussed a broad range of issues regarding the production of organic vegetables in Vietnam such as differences between the production of organic vegetables and their chemically grown counterparts, the role of businesses in this field, impacts of urbanisation, food prices and climate change on production as well as opportunities and prospects for the development of organic vegetables.
While pointing out challenges facing Vietnamese farmers, delegates shared experience and proposed measures to help the country develop production models for organic vegetables.
Green theme for Environment Day
Viet Nam will celebrate this year's World Environment Day on June 5 under the theme of "Green Economy: Does it include you?" in Quang Ninh Province's Ha Long City.
The event will form part of Viet Nam's efforts in reiterating its commitment to pursuing green growth to transform current development patterns towards sustainable development.
This year's event will afford attendees an opportunity to learn more about green economies and assess the process as implemented by the Government, private sector, civil societies and communities.
Speaking at the press briefing yesterday, May 8, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen said Viet Nam was developing a green growth strategy for 2011-20 period with a vision towards 2050 and that many challenges lay ahead, including limited resources.
He said the next step would entail preparing relevant policies and mechanisms as well as the institutional framework to ensure the effective implementation of such strategy.
A series of events will be held in Quang Ninh on June 4-5 including a green economy forum and a national commemoration event with the participation of 3,000 people including Party and State leaders.
The United Nations Environment Programme defines a green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. A green economy will be the umbrella theme of the upcoming Rio 20+ Summit held in Rio De Janero in June.
Conjoined twins await separation surgery
Conjoined twins, born here last Sunday, have been transferred to the Ha Noi-based Central Paediatrics Hospital for separation surgery, doctors at the northern province's General Hospital said.
The pregnant mother was first admitted to hospital in good condition, having received few pre-natal check-ups previously. Doctors found the twin babies to be conjoined and decided on surgery to save their lives.
The 4kg twins have their chests and bellies attached, have two kidneys, one female sex organ and no anus. They have normal arms and legs, doctors said, adding that they were receiving special treatment due to weakness following birth.
As the first such case in the province, it was the 21-year-old ethnic minority mother's first delivery.
The hospital board of managers and doctors supported her with VND5 million (US$240) after the birth.
Central hospitals help train district clinic staff
Fifty-nine doctors from 17 major hospitals in HCM City have been sent to assist their peers at 12 district-level hospitals for one year in an attempt to improve the quality of health-care services at community healthcare facilities.
Twelve satellite medical clinics in various specialties, including pediatrics, oncology, obstetrics, gynaecology and traumatology and orthopaedics, have been set up.
Ly Kieu Diem, a doctor at HCM City Children's Hospital No.1, volunteered to share her skills with doctors at Binh Tan District's Hospital.
Apart from giving health check-up and treatments to local children in Binh Tan District, she also offers regular training for five pediatrics doctors and holds consultation sessions at the hospital.
It was critical to send experienced doctors to work in outlying districts where the number of doctors are limited and insufficiently qualified to meet check-up and treatment demands, according to Nguyen Van Muoi, director of Binh Tan District's Hospital.
With skill and technology transfer from qualified doctors, the hospitals can improve the quality of their examinations and treatment and thus reduce the overload at HCM City hospitals. In the last few months, three doctors at the HCM City Oncology Hospital were sent to work at public hospitals in districts 2, 9, and 12, according to Diep Bao Tuan, deputy head of the hospital's planning department.
The number of patients had increased by 4-5 persons per day at these hospitals compared to the first few weeks when the doctors first arrived, Tuan said.
Pham Viet Thanh, director of the city's Department of Health, said the department would make an assessment about the shortage of medical equipment as well as human resources based on the reports of deployed doctors.
The department plans to ask the city's People's Committee to provide funding for district-level hospitals to invest in equipment as well human-resource training.
Only when medical services in districts improve will city-level hospitals ease the service overload, he said.
The city's Department of Health has asked four hospitals to set up satellite departments at district-level public hospitals in the near future.
The HCM City Children's Hospital No.1 will have a satellite department with 100 beds at Binh Tan District's Hospital, the Children's Hospital No.2 will have one at District 2's Hospital, the Oncology Hospital a 200-bed satellite department at District 2's Hospital and the Traumatology and Orthopaedics Hospital a 100-bed satellite department at Tan Phu District's Hospital.
Blood disease burdens poor
Pham Thi Cam Ha, 22, from Hai Duong Province has been condemned to a life of blood transfusions due to a blood disorder she was born with, yet she is one of the lucky ones.
Ha, who was born with severe thalassemia – a potentially fatal genetic blood disorder that results in anaemia, stunted growth and in some cases damage to the liver, heart and other major organs – was fortunate to be diagnosed with the crippling disease by doctors from the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion when she was four years old.
Severe thalassemia – which is prevalent in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa – results in the body making an abnormal form of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen – leading to anaemia.
Since being diagnosed with the disease, Ha was forced to have monthly blood transfusions, which she will have to undergo for the rest of her life unless she receives a costly bone marrow transplant.
"Thalassemia patients like me face many difficulties and we are reliant on other people's blood to stay alive," Ha said.
Ha has to travel from Hai Duong to Ha Noi each month for a blood transfusion, which last about a week. The treatment costs US$100-250 monthly.
"Most thalassemia patients are poor and do not have enough money for regular medicine and blood transfusions," she said.
Because of the condition, sufferers find it difficult to hold down a job, which makes it even more difficult to pay the treatment costs.
"Thalassemia severely affects the person's health; it impairs memory and makes it difficult to concentrate. That makes it very difficult to study or do demanding work," she said.
And because those with severe thalassemia have to spend a great deal of time in hospital, finding a job is near impossible.
Ha is among an estimated 20,000 people living with thalassemia in Viet Nam. Of those, just 10 per cent receive medical treatment because there is no national screening programme.
Those with acute thalassemia who don't receive regular blood transfusions will die.
Medical experts said blood transfusions and drugs to avoid iron overload were necessary for survival, but the treatment is long, expensive and complicated.
There is a high incidence of thalassemia, both acute and minor, in ethnic groups such as the E De (40 per cent), Thai, Cham (25 per cent) and Muong (20 per cent), while it is estimated that just 2-4 per cent of Kinh have the disease.
Doctor Duong Ba Truc, from the National Paediatrics Hospital, said at a workshop in the capital yesterday that only a few medical centres in Ha Noi and HCM City have the facilities to detect thalassemia.
As a result, Truc estimates that about 90 per cent of the country's thalassemia cases go undetected.
Truc said the Paediatrics Hospital typically treated between 150-200 children with thalassemia each year. He said if it was detected early, the infant could be treated with stem cells. He added that five patients had successfully undergone bone marrow transplants, the tissue being donated by their brothers. However, the cost of the operation was about $25,000.
"The blood donation programme needs to be improved to boost resources," Truc added.
Medical experts said it was vital that those suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, anaemia, malnutrition, dizziness or an enlarged spleen be tested for thalassemia.
He also said that couples, who have relatives with thalassemia, be tested for the disease.
In the meantime, life goes on for Ha, who is resigned to her fate, but hopeful that one day she will be freed from the need to have regular blood transfusions.
"I live at hospital longer than living at home. But still I try to be optimistic and enjoy life."
Da Nang wins IBM grant to become smart city
Da Nang is one of 33 cities worldwide that will receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant in 2012.
The Smarter Cities Challenge, launched in 2011 and worth US$50 million, is one of IBM's largest philanthropic initiatives. Over three years, leading IT experts from IBM will work with 100 cities around the world on key urban issues.
In Da Nang, IBM will send experts to the city to look into its socio-economic development, and study ways to supply better urban services and attract greater participation of its citizens.
The corporation and local authorities will consider and propose ways to better manage transport, water supply and drainage, as well as waste water from industrial zones and factories and food safety and hygiene.
IBM has experience of dealing with these issues in other Asian countries such as Singapore and China.
Pham Kim Son, director of Da Nang's Information and Communications Department, said IBM's information technology solutions would help solve the challenges faced by Da Nang during its development.
Son said he believed IBM would be a leading IT partner and help Da Nang become a smarter city thanks to its expertise and experience around the world.
"When Da Nang becomes a smart city its citizens will have every comfort, public services will be better managed, as will its natural resources," Son said.
Peter Williams, the chief technology officer for IBM Big Green solutions and business models, said Da Nang would become a technology centre in the near future.
He said Da Nang, when it became a smart city, would be able to deal with global problems such as environmental pollution, natural disasters and traffic jams. The residents' living standards would improve markedly, he added.
When the city's administrative centre becomes operational, it will apply IT solutions to its managerial work and create the best conditions for enterprises and residents to prosper. Da Nang is also on the way to becoming a green city, which involves protecting its water resources, while developing its tourism industry sustainably, local officials said.
Park rangers seize 366kg of costly sua wood
The Forest Management Agency of central Quang Binh Province yesterday, May 8, announced that they have seized the first batch of the mysteriously expensive sua wood that was cut down in the province’s Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.
Earlier a group of 11 people had allegedly chopped down three sua trees, scientifically known as dalbergia tonkinensis, in an area named Hung Tri inside the national park.
These illegal loggers have reportedly hired locals at high prices to carry the aromatic and insect-resistant wood that is mysteriously sold for as much as millions of dong per kilogram out of the forest.
More than 360 kilograms of this wood, worth around VND10 billion (US$480,000), were detected by park rangers Tuesday.
“[Park rangers] found a group of people transporting the wood from the forest area in Phuc Trach Commune and concealing them under rocks,” said Pham Hong Thai, head of the forest protection agency.
“They fled immediately upon seeing the rangers.”
Nguyen Huu Hoai, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, granted gifts and bonuses to the park rangers who are monitoring the forest following the confiscation.
While hundreds of locals in Xuan Trach Commune, Bo Trach District have rushed to the forest to hunt for sua wood, it is still not known why the wood is so expensive.
“Sua wood is sold at prices higher than its real value,” Nguyen Hoang Nghia, head of the Vietnam Forestry Science Association, said in an interview with Tuoi Tre.
“My colleague, both Vietnamese and Chinese, and I have no idea why sua wood is so sought-after.”
“The wood has no value in terms of herbal medicine,” said Doan Van Thu, deputy head of the association.
Experts discuss Agent Orange clean-up at Da Nang Airport
Vietnamese and US experts yesterday, May 8, discussed in a seminar the use of In-Pile Thermal Desorption (IPTD) technology to clean up the Agent Orange/Dioxin contamination at Da Nang Airport.
Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the IPTD environmental pollution treatment system would be used to clean up the dioxin at Da Nang Airport, as part of the co-operative project between USAID and the Viet Nam Ministry of National Defence.
IPTD, an advanced technology has been applied in the US, EU and Asia to clean up dangerous wastes and ensure safe environments for millions of people.
Deputy Commander of Air Force and Air Defence Major-General Le Huy Vinh expressed his hope that the contaminated land would be cleaned by using this new technology.
Under the project worth around US$43 million, land of a 191,400sq.m area in the airport plans to be dug up and moved to IPTD to be treated.
Steinberg said the project to clean up dioxin at Da Nang Airport would be conducted very carefully to ensure the safety of both the project workers and the local people.
"We commit to clearing and dealing with AO/Dioxin at the Da Nang Airport."
Phosphorus ammo causes forest fire
Phosphorus ammunition has been identified to be the cause of a 100-ha forest fire that occurred last Wednesday in central Da Nang Province's Lien Chieu District.
While authorities do not know how the ammunition was set off, it is believed to have been left over from the war in the forest's section 11 on the top of Hai Van Mountain Pass – the site of a former airstrip used by soldiers heading for nearby battlefields, said Tran Van Luong, head of the provincial Forest Management Department.
Local authorities have planned to ensure safety in the section of the forest, said Luong.