Policy dialogue raises awareness of discrimination against children
At the policy dialogue
A policy dialogue on “Ensuring Child Right of being protected from all forms of discrimination” took place in Hanoi on November 7 to advocate the enforcement of policies and law on child rights.
The event was held by the Department of Child Affairs at the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Vietnam Association for Protection of Children’s Rights (VAPCR), the Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD) and Save the Children in Vietnam.
The dialogue aimed to raise awareness among parents, child caregivers, teachers, journalists and social workers of children’s right to be protected from all forms of discrimination, and at the same time, discussed ways to improve laws and the enforcement of laws on protecting children’s rights.
In her opening remarks, MSD Director Nguyen Phuong Linh said a study conducted by the MSD in 2018 found that an environment that lacks trust, sharing and support for children at home, school and in society harms children. This why most of discriminated children choose to stay silent and do nothing to stop it, Linh said.
In fact, many parents, teachers and other adults often unintentionally discriminate against children on the grounds of their gender, disability, capacity, family background and other factors, she noted.
Parents and teachers usually compare a child to others to motivate the child to perform at par with their peers, not knowing that it is discriminatory behaviour in terms of personal characteristics and capacity, she said. In many cases, this approach harmed children as they may feel hurt, angry and even resent their parents, teachers and those they are compared with, she explained.
Discrimination against children for their family status is also common at schools, she added.
During the dialogue, many participants voiced concern over the fact that children living on the streets, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) children and those with HIV and disabilities face greater discrimination. They stressed the need to adopt measures to protect all groups of children from being unfairly treated.
Vuong Khai Phong, an expert on LGBT from the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE), said a survey by iSEE shows that about 60 percent of LGBT children said they were forced to change their hairstyle or the way they dress; 24.9 percent of those discriminated used to think of suicide and 19 percent have made a suicide attempt. Only 12 percent of them had encourage to speak out and report the problems.
The survey also found that most teachers believed there is no discrimination at their schools but up to 85 percent of LBGT children said their schools did not act to prevent discrimination.
Phong suggested LGBT issues be included in curriculum or extra academic activity at schools to improve awareness among students, teachers and parents of these vulnerable people. He also urged for the development of policies to support disadvantaged LGBT children to reduce discrimination.
Changing the environment around children and adults’ perception and behaviour will help prevent discrimination against children, Le Thi Khanh Van, a child expert, said.
It is necessary to launch campaigns with stronger actions to change the environment around the children to facilitate fair treatment for them, she added.
Vietnam sets up toilet association to promote hygienic practice
Scene at the ceremony establishing establish the Vietnam Toilet Association in Binh Duong on November 8
The decision to establish the Vietnam Toilet Association was announced at a ceremony held in the southern province of Binh Duong on November 8.
Under the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Decision No 2067, the 135-member association has been established to gather individuals and organisations to voluntarily join hands in promoting the building of standard toilet facilities in the country, thus protecting people’s health.
Before the decision, a board campaigning for the official establishment of the association, in collaboration with the Binh Duong People’ Committee and businesses, had organised urgent runs between 2015 and 2017. The annual event calls for public attention to building public toilets that meet hygiene and safety standards.
Main activities of the newly established association revolve around organising communications campaigns on the construction of standard public toilets, conducting relevant surveys, and planning options for the upgrade and construction of public toilet.
The organisation’s first congress for the first tenure spanning between 2018 and 2023 elected a 15-members executive committee, headed by Le Van Hiep, general director of Binh Duong-based Kim Hoang Hiep environment services company.
Public toilets are seriously lacking in Vietnam. In Hanoi alone, just above 370 public toilets are currently operating to serve the capital’s 7.7 million residents and a large number of domestic and foreign visitors.
For the existing public toilets, maintenance and hygiene is an issue, hindering access to the scarce service.
Poor eyesight on the rise amongst Vietnamese children
Director of the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology Nguyen Xuan Hiep addressed the congress on November 8
The number of children suffering from refraction is increasing in Vietnam, particularly in big cities where nearly 40 percent of children aged between 6-15 years old have contracted eye refractive defects.
At the annual congress of the Vietnam Ophthalmological Society (VOS), jointly held by the VOS and the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) in Ho Chi Minh City on November 8, VNIO Director Nguyen Xuan Hiep said that the refraction rate among rural children is 15-20 percent lower compared to that of children living in urban areas.
A VNIO survey showed that some 3 million children with poor vision or impaired sight are in need of examinations and prescribed glasses, he said, stating that quality of eye care in Vietnam still falls short of expectations.
There are around 16,400 children who have impaired vision due to retinal damage, corneal abrasion, cataracts, and glaucoma. However, Vietnam is still short of qualified treatment facilities, while the eye care capacity in provincial hospitals remains weak.
“The Government needs to draw up policies to develop the optical examination and treatment system in order to reduce the risk of blindness among children”, Hiep stressed.
Vietnam is striving to increase the rate of children receiving refraction check-ups to 70 percent, he added.
The VOS Congress 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City drew the participation of nearly 2,000 delegates, including experts from Australia, China, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.
It offers a good opportunity for domestic and international ophthalmological experts to exchange their views and experiences, as well as update each other on new knowledge, studies, and qualification improvements in the field of ophthalmology.
There will be 20 training courses on different specialties to be undertaken by leading Vietnamese and international experts with the aim of updating knowledge and approaches to ophthalmology in the region.
The event will run until November 10.
Seminar discusses prevention of alcohol abuse
The Ministry of Health held a seminar in Hanoi on November 8 on Vietnam’s international commitments to preventing the harmful effects of alcohol and beer, as well as the recommendations from international organisations towards the draft law on the prevention and combat of alcohol abuse.
Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs, said 44.2 percent of men and 1.2 percent of women in Vietnam use alcohol and beer at a hazardous level.
Under the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 adopted by leaders of 154 member nations, including Vietnam, at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Vietnam set the goal of reducing the number of alcohol users at hazardous levels by 10 percent by 2030.
Quang called for creating a strong legal corridor to achieve the goal, saying that the issuance of the law on preventing and combating the harmful effects of alcohol and beer is necessary to deliver Vietnam’s commitments towards sustainable development.
Three months since the draft law was up for public feedback, 10 letters of suggestion by six domestic and foreign organisations have been sent to leaders of the Vietnamese legislature and Government.
They called on the Government to enforce policies on preventing and combating the harmful effects of alcohol and specifically beer as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and place the protection of public health and the national sustainable development above others in the law-building process.
They suggested issuing regulations on banning advertising and promotion activities, and further restricting the availability of alcohol and beer to those aged below 18.
Representatives from the WHO, the Vietnam Non-Communicable Disease Prevention Alliance, the HealthBridge Foundation of Canada in Vietnam, and the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance attended the event.
Conference talks policy communications, public’s access to information
The conference takes place in Hanoi on November 8 (Photo: nhandan.com.vn)
An international symposium took place in Hanoi on November 8 to discuss people-centred policy communications and solutions to improve the public’s access to information.
It was organised by the Academy of Journalism and Communications, the Dai bieu nhan dan (People’s Representative) newspaper, and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
Experts from Vietnam and the Republic of Korea shared their experience in people-centred policy communications and solutions to promote public engagement in policymaking.
Truong Ngoc Nam, Director of the Academy of Journalism and Communications, said that the public’s central role in policymaking is evidenced as they are not only the target of such policies, but also participate in the process, give feedback on policy selection, and evaluate the impact of policies.
He added that in order to ensure this is maintained, it is necessary to build models and solutions to receive and analyse public feedback, such as e-government or other communication models that apply modern technology.
At the event, many opinions focused on the conditions for public access of policies, saying that information transparency is essential for them to be able to exercise their right to know. Only when the public has full access to accurate, detailed information can they exercise the right to discuss it.
Do Chi Nghia, Editor-in-Chief of the Dai bieu nhan dan newspaper, said that engaging the public in the policymaking process is an important solution to improving not only the effectiveness of policy communications, but also people’s capacity of accessing, evaluating, and giving feedback on policies.
It is necessary to ensure people’s right to information and promote the accountability of policymaking agencies, he added.
Other participants also highlighted the importance of enhancing the public’s capacity of accessing information amid the technological and social media boom at present.
They said it is an urgent requirement to ensure information equality among regions with different development levels, noting that more attention should be paid to improving the conditions for and capacity of accessing information among rural and mountainous residents.
Youth raise voices to help biodiversity protection
Prizes are presented to winners of the online speaking contest on November 8 (Photo: nhandan.com.vn)
The top entries of the online speaking contest “Sustainable Development Goals on biodiversity and financial resources for biodiversity” were awarded in Hanoi on November 8.
The competition was launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Biodiversity Conservation Agency, under the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22).
It aims to raise awareness amongst local youth on biodiversity and sustainable financial resources for its protection, while creating a space for their creativity to develop and in which they can improve their presentation, analytical skills, and abstract thinking.
The competition attracted 72 video entries sent in by Vietnamese students.
In the individual category, the first prize went to a student from the Academy of Finance, while the second and third prizes were presented to a competitor from the Vietnam Women’s Academy and another from the Academy of Journalism and Communications, respectively.
In the team category, the top prizes were awarded to two teams from the Foreign Trade University and a team from the RMIT University Vietnam.
UNDP Vietnam Deputy Country Director Akiko Fujii said she was impressed with the entries from Vietnamese students. The entries showed their thorough understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of wildlife conservation.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director of the Biodiversity Conservation Agency Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan said biodiversity is critically important to socio-economic development and the environment of Vietnam. It is a foundation to develop many important sectors like agriculture, pharmaceuticals, fisheries, and tourism.
She noted the National Biodiversity Strategy for 2020 with a vision to 2030 emphasises that protecting biodiversity is the responsibility of all society, with the youth able to play a critical role in this matter.
This contest was a chance for young people to show their love for and understanding of nature and suggest initiatives to help with biodiversity protection, Nhan added.
Helmets presented to improve children’s road sense
Students of the Ba Dinh Primary School in Hanoi are presented with helmets on November 8
Nearly 1,000 students of the Ba Dinh Primary School in Hanoi were presented with high-quality helmets on November 8 in an effort to help raise public awareness of road safety.
The presentation event was organised by the Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam, the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, and some Swedish businesses.
According to the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC), traffic accidents claim the lives of almost 1,900 children in Vietnam every year, and they are one of the two main causes of deaths for those aged between 5 and 14. Aside from the accidents caused by adults, in many cases, children are both the cause and the victims.
The main cause of children’s traffic rule violation is adults’ lack of responsibility and attention to them, the committee said, adding that the poor road sense of many adults has set bad examples to children.
At the event, NTSC Office Manager Nguyen Trong Thai said road accidents are currently a challenge to Vietnam as well as all countries around the world. In Vietnam, the numbers of traffic accidents, deaths and injured people remain high through they have declined in recent years. Nearly 6,600 people were killed and 11,000 others got injured by traffic accidents from January to October this year.
He added that wearing helmets for children is firstly the responsibility of schools and parents, urging teachers and parents to instruct students to abide by traffic rules and encourage parents to require their children to wear helmets while bringing children to schools by motorbikes.
President of the AIP Foundation Greig Craft said although the adherence to the helmet wearing rule has been improved among adults, the rate among children is still low.
The AIP Foundation estimates that motorbike users account for 58 percent of the total deaths from traffic accidents and they mainly sustain head injuries.
Fulbright provides short-term teaching program to Vietnamese schools
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has just announced the 2019 – 2020 Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-term Program to Vietnamese schools.
The program provides Vietnamese host institutions the opportunity to request a U.S. educator for a one-time visit of two to six weeks. The Fulbright Distinguished teachers will engage in collaborative projects with a teacher training institution; a national, state, or local education ministry; an educational organization such as a research institution, think tank, or other governmental or non-governmental organization; or an elementary or secondary school. Projects should be implemented between October 2019 and May 2020.
The Fulbright Program will fund international travel costs and daily honorarium for the U.S. educator. The Vietnamese host institution will provide the U.S. educator with arrival and departure support, local accommodation, in-country travel, meals, and assistance obtaining a visa (including applicable visa fees).
Details of the program can be found at https://vn.usembassy.gov/education-culture/fulbright-program-vietnam/fulbright-distinguished-award-teaching-short-term-program/
In order to request a Fulbright Distinguished Short-term teacher, potential host institutions should submit the request form to the Fulbright Program via email [email protected] by Friday, December 21, 2018.
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Thai Nguyen launches online mother-child medical records
Online mother-child medical records are presented to Thai Nguyen province to carry out the programme
The northern province of Thai Nguyen’s Department of Health held a conference on November 8 to launch a system of combined medical records for mothers and children.
Participants at the event were introduced to mother-child medical records which aim to keep track of mothers and their children’s health conditions, offering them continuous healthcare services, from the stages of fetus to six weeks after birth.
For the children, the records will keep information on the monitoring and care of their mental and physical health from the pregnancy, post-labour, and infantile periods.
The records also include information related to the health conditions of the mother during and after pregnancy.
Tran Dang Khoa, Vice Director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health under the Ministry of Health, said that the launching of the records will be helpful in the screening of risks, diseases, and obstetrical complications, as well as in fetus malformation, thus offering more timely responses and minimising fatalities among mothers and children.
The delegates also proposed measures to seek resources for the running of mother-child medical records and popularising the records in localities.
Thai Nguyen is a regional medical hub with competent human resources and infrastructure. The province has been chosen by the Ministry of Health to pilot the programme of launching online mother-child medical records.
The outcomes of the programme – which will run from 2018 to 2020 in all nine districts, cities, and towns of the province – will serve as the foundation for the expansion of the programme nationwide.
So far, the medical records have been applied in the 15 provinces of Lam Dong, Thai Nguyen, Bac Giang, Lang Son, Quang Tri, Quang Binh, Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Phu Yen, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Ha Giang, and An Giang.
Role of NGOs in safeguarding intangible cultural heritages highlighted
Kwon Huh, General Director of the International Information and Networking Centre for ICH in the Asia-Pacific Region speaks at the event
The Asia-Pacific Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Conference, which closed in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on November 8, placed a spotlight on the important role played by NGOs in implementing sustainable community development goals through the protection of ICHs.
With four working sessions and two roundtable talks, the three-day event provided information on the UN 2030 agenda on sustainable development, focusing discussion on issues related to quality education and sustainable cities and communities.
Participants affirmed commitments towards adopting measures to protect intangible cultural heritages in the spirit of the UNESCO 2003 convention for the safeguarding of humanity’s ICHs.
The conference adopted a recommendation, affirming the great contribution of ICHs towards sustainable development and the prosperity of the global community, as well as highlighting the need to empower the community towards maintaining sustainability, creativity, and integration in preservation work.
It also called for stronger cooperation and exchange in the region for this field, especially in educating young people from disadvantaged backgrounds on the importance of ICH protection.
The event encouraged other NGOs and relevant parties to join the NGOs network towards more effectively supporting the preservation of ICHs in the region.
UNESCO and its member nations were called to continue supporting NGO activities in the conservation of intangible cultural heritages, especially for initiatives related to cooperation.
Kwon Huh, General Director of the International Information and Networking Centre for ICH in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP), stressed that NGOs play a crucial role in conserving intangible cultural heritages, adding that the event offers a good chance to understand more about the relationship between intangible cultural heritages and society, as well as defining some of the predominant challenges facing preservation works.
In the time to come, attention should be paid to building orientations and targets for protecting ICHs and giving specific guidance and recommendations for NGOs in this field, he said.
It is necessary to define the role of heritage in the development of tourism, science-technology, the environment, and economy, thus mapping out plans for preserving and upholding values of intangible cultural heritages in the community, he stressed.
Experts discuss measures to boost tourism development
Experts gathered at a seminar in Hanoi on November 8 to share a wide range of solutions to future tourism development in Vietnam.
At the event, Dr. Truong Sy Vinh, Deputy Director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said the 2017 annual report on Vietnam’s tourism conducted by VNAT showed that tourism contributed 396 trillion VND (nearly 17 billion USD) or 7.9 percent of the country’s GDP last year.
Tourism directly creates nearly 2.5 million jobs, accounting for 4.6 percent of Vietnam’s total jobs, according to the World Tourism Council.
The council forecast that international arrivals to Vietnam this year will increase 22-24 percent and domestic visitors will go up 8-10 percent, while revenue from tourism activities will surge 16-18 percent.
In almost all cities and provinces, tourism is the fastest growing economic sector and makes significant contributions to local economic development, Vinh said.
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Dinh, a tourism expert, stressed the importance of studying global tourism trends in building a national tourism development strategy.
The strategy should target the development of modern tourism forms and products, such as leisure tourism in combination with sightseeing, kayaking, diving and water-skiing; adventure tourism; eco-tourism; community-based tourism; health tourism; and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism, he said.
It is necessary to prepare a contingent of high-qualified tourism managers and staff as well as tour guides, he said, adding that the training must be done by tourism companies with the VNAT support.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nguyen Van Luu, former head of the Training Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, mentioned the promotion of on-the-spot exports through tourism.
“We need to boost on-the-spot exports by attracting more international tourists to Vietnam, lengthening their stay in the country and increasing their spending on the basis of developing new products, diversifying and improving the quality of export products”, he said.
Vietnam should focus on luring visitors from markets in Northeast Asia such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, and Taiwan and Hong Kong (China); Southeast Asia; and the Pacific.
It also needs to maintain markets of high-class tourists like Western and Eastern Europe and North America, while expanding to new markets such as the Middle East and India, Luu added.
All ideas shared at the seminar will help the Institute for Tourism Development Research to have more accurate and fuller assessments of the role of the tourism industry in the country’s economic development, thus recommending practical and effective orientations and measures to boost tourism development in the future.
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