Vietnam set priorities for HIV/AIDS prevention in 2006
In the first nine months of this year, another 10,911 people were infected with HIV/AIDS, up 15.47 percent compared with the same period last year.
According to estimates from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other international organisations, Vietnam will have 300,000 HIV/AIDS carriers by the end of 2010.
Dr Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control under the MoH, said many inter-ministerial and community-based activities have been held.
The Ministry of Public Security has organised training courses on taking care of, giving treatments and providing consultant advice for HIV/AIDS carriers at the ministry’s health centres, medics at detention centres, prisons and investigation police forces in provinces and cities.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has directed 83 health centres to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS prevention and control to more than 50,000 drug-addicted people in detoxification centres. The ministry is co-operating with relevant agencies to develop policies for staff and nurses in detoxification centres and regulations for children affected by HIV/AIDS. The ministry has also co-operated with the US Education Development Institute to carry out a project to manage HIV/AIDS prevention and control in work places. The project has attracted the participation of 10 provinces and cities.
Apart from disseminating information on HIV/AIDS to recruits, the Ministry of Defence has held workshops on HIV/AIDS for more than 265,000 soldiers and officers. It has also helped support the activities of HIV/AIDS clubs and co-operated with youth unions to organise activities on HIV/AIDS programmes.
The HIV/AIDS prevention programme in 2006 will focus on intensifying media activities about HIV/AIDS prevention, devising measures to minise negative impacts and provide consultant advice on care and medical treatment for infected people.
In addition, the State will give investment priority to provinces and cities that do not have HIV/AIDS prevention co-operation projects while continuing equal distribution in order to use investment capital effectively.
By the end of September, 2005, as many as 311,586 people were provided with consultation on HIV/AIDS prevention.
The National HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme has so far distributed medicine to 2,714 AIDS patients and 740 doses for treating people exposed to the HIV virus due to occupational risks.
AO victims tour the US for justice
A Vietnamese delegation of three Agent Orange (AO) victims, Prof. Nguyen Trong Nhan, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVAOD) and a translator visited the US on November 12 to call for justice for AO/dioxin victims.
Following was what they said prior to their trip.
Prof. Nguyen Trong Nhan: "The Court of Appeal of the US Federal Court is preparing to consider the lawsuit filed by Vietnamese AO victims. To allow justice to win, we should call for public support and we want Americans to make their voices heard. Our visit to the US is being made at the invitation of some US organisations responsible for Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims and the Association of War Veterans for Peace. Our delegation includes three victims, but regrettably, the US Embassy in Vietnam refused to grant a visa for Mr Muoi, a son of a solider who served for the Saigon puppet army in the central province of Thua Thien Hue.
He has spondylalgia, one of the diseases caused by AO.
I have toured more than 30 countries around the world but I have never witnessed the difficulties in visa granting as required by the US. I give no comment on the visa granting process for Mr Muoi but what do the Vietnamese people who served with the US army think about their previous friends?
As scheduled, the delegation will stay for nearly one month in the US. We will meet with Americans and display films and photos in 12 major cities such as Washington, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Philadenphia and San Francisco.
The first victim is a 70-year-old Dang Hong Nhut, who used to work for the Liberation Women’s Union and joined the delegation as a direct victim of Agent Orange.
Ms Nhut recalled: "At the time, we operated from Tay Ninh to Cu Chi, where the US troops often poured toxic chemicals. The poisons made the leaves begin to defoliate. When the US troops poured the toxic intensively, the smoke was as thick as fog. Our eyes were smarting and our lungs were out of breath. But we had to hold on to our position. It lasted for several years. I was lucky because my husband and I had a son before the US sprayed the deadly toxic chemicals. My son now is a grown man. But we became victims of Agent Orange. In 2002, I had a surgery in my stomach, and then on my thyroid. I am not sure if I would have to suffer from any disease from now on. I am now director of the vocational centre for disabled and orphaned children."
The second member of the delegation is Ho Si Hai, a driver during the American war in Vietnam. Mr Hai said: US troops sprayed the chemicals densely "Along the Truong Son route within a 3km area to prevent us from moving ahead. Sometimes when we were eating, the US sprayed the chemicals. We quickly moved down the stream, dipped our handkerchief in water and covered our nose. We finished our meal with food stained by the toxic smoke. It lasted for months and years. In 1969, I returned from military service and married a volunteer girl. We did not unexpected that to become both victims of Agent Orange. Our first son was blind and deaf several months after he was born. The second boy suffered the same problems. Our third child, a daughter, died when she was five years old."
The war has passed but it still lingers on for Ms Nhut, Mr Hai and many other families. Many generations will have to suffer from the serious consequences of the toxic chemicals. Mr Hai said: "Though the US have thousands of tonnes of gold, they cannot ease the loss and pain that millions of people are suffering. We come to the US to tell the US people that such war crime is undeniable and that humans must know the real face of the war so that they will not cause any catastrophes in the future."