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UNFPA provides aid to support older Vietnamese people in Covid-19 context



Old people receive free healthcare services at a community program in Hanoi. The UNFPA has donated personal protective equipment and hygiene items to help Vietnam improve healthcare services for the elderly amid Covid-19 – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam handed over personal protective equipment and hygiene items to the Social Protection Department on January 14 to support caregivers and social care workers who provide services to older people in the Covid-19 context.

The supplies, including gloves, face masks, anti-droplet face shields, thermometers and hand sanitizers worth US$30,000, will be distributed to social protection centers and community caregivers in high-risk cities and provinces such as Hai Duong, Danang and Quang Nam.

According to the UNFPA, Covid-19 has had devastating effects on older people as they are at an increased risk of developing severe conditions and seeing higher death rates from the disease.

As one of the fastest-ageing populations in the world, with the number of older persons aged 65 and above accounting for 7.7% of the total population, Vietnam has done an exemplary job in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

However, it is critical to prepare the country well to ensure dedicated and uninterrupted care and social security for the elderly to protect them from the pandemic, paying special attention to the elderly who live alone, in facilities and those with disabilities.

Addressing the handover ceremony, Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA representative in Vietnam, said, “Covid-19 is giving us excruciating challenges by amplifying the vulnerabilities of old people. It is clear that the fatality rate for older people is higher and for those above the age of 80, it is five times higher than the global average. Therefore, older people must be a priority while dealing with Covid-19 to ensure no one is left behind in the humanitarian response as well as in development efforts.”

Pham Thi Hai Ha, deputy director of the Social Protection Department under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, highly appreciated UNFPA’s support and affirmed, “Protecting people’s health, particularly healthcare and support for older persons during the Covid-19 pandemic is the top priority of the Government. The protection of health workers and caregivers must also be prioritized as critical and lifesaving and they should be provided with personal protective equipment.”



Photo series promotes Covid-19 prevention among ethnic minority communities



A photo features a health worker instructing a vendor at Sa Phin Market in Ha Giang Province on how to use a hand sanitizer – PHOTOS: COURTESY OF UNDP

HCMC – The Ministry of Health and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have launched a photo series that calls on ethnic minority people to act against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The series of images reflects people in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang implementing the dual goals of sustainable economic development and effectively preventing and controlling Covid-19.

A Mong ethnic woman wears a face mask while transporting grass

The 50 photos were taken in late 2020 and early 2021 in four highlands districts, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Yen Minh and Quan Ba, the poorest districts that are home to many ethnic Mong people.

In the photos, the locals show their awareness of complying with preventive measures while working, such as by wearing masks, washing hands with antiseptic, sanitizing their homes and work environment and maintaining personal hygiene to protect their health and safety and that of the community.

Local children help each other wear masks

The photos also show how the locals develop tourism while preserving and promoting cultural identity, and at the same time, implementing measures to prevent Covid-19.

The photo series is part of the communication initiative, “Strengthening communication on Covid-19 prevention in the new normal situation for small ethnic minority businesses”, jointly implemented by the Ministry of Health, UNDP and other partners, with support from the Government of Japan.

Women in Dong Van grow vegetables to earn a living

The initiative has been implemented in Ha Giang Province, with a series of practical activities that provide knowledge and information and promote new habits among people for the prevention and control of the pandemic.

The project has reached out to local government officials, health workers and small businesses in Ha Giang City and Meo Vac, Dong Van, Quan Ba and Yen Minh districts. It has provided more essential resources for the local government in its prevention control efforts and guidance for people, especially small ethnic minority businesses, to co-exist safely with Covid-19 while recovering and building forward better.

Medical workers check the body temperatures of people at the Dong Van medical center

The initiative has helped enhance equality in healthcare for the ethnic minority groups, toward implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.


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Two Việt Nam beaches among top beaches in Asia



Mỹ Khê Beach in Đà Nẵng City. VNA/ Photo

HCM CITY – TripAdvisor readers have named Mỹ Khê in the central city of Đà Nẵng and An Bàng in Hội An City among the most beautiful beaches in Asia.

Around three kilometres from Hội An, An Bàng was in the 24th position on the list of 25 best beaches in Asia, while Mỹ Khê finished off the list.

An Bàng is one of the few white-sand beaches left in Việt Nam that has yet to be spoiled by the boom in beach tourism that has resulted in overcrowding, coral damage and environmental pollution.

Once a hidden gem in the old town, the beach entered the international limelight when CNN listed it as one of the 100 best beaches on earth in 2011.

The 10-km-long Mỹ Khê beach running from the base of Sơn Trà Peninsula to Marble Mountains was catapulted to global fame when Australian newspaper The Sunday Herald Sun listed it among Asia’s 10 most beautiful beaches in 2012.

Considered Việt Nam’s most picturesque beach, Mỹ Khê Beach was named by American troops who visited during the Việt Nam War. –


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Young Vietnamese on the verge of becoming ‘lost generation’ amid pandemic



Hemingway once described “lost generation” as those coping with the aftermath of WW1, now young Vietnamese are on the brink of becoming a new version of the term.

Nguyen Thanh Tung, 22, graduated from university in June 2020, and was thrilled to enter a new stage in life.

But reality turned out to be harsher than he thought as he spent four months looking for a job in Hanoi and HCMC only to be repeatedly told “they will contact me when the Covid-19 pandemic is contained.”

He then decided to apply for a graduate course in the U.S. and was admitted, but the university has canceled on-campus classes meaning Tung cannot leave.

“It is like someone has pressed the pause button on my life, and I do not know how to find my play button amid this pandemic.”

Millions of other young people share his plight as colleges are closed, jobs are hard to find and mental and financial issues grow.

A man wears a protective mask as he drives past a banner promoting prevention against the Covid-19 pandemic in Hanoi, Vietnam July 31, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Kham.

A man wears a protective mask as he drives past a banner promoting prevention against the Covid-19 pandemic in Hanoi, Vietnam July 31, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Kham.

Many students have been unable to cope with virtual classes and the hiatus in extracurricular activities.

“Sometimes I cannot keep track of the lessons, or just get bored of sitting in front of the computer for hours, and so feel like I have failed to prepare well enough for my final exams,” Nguyen Ba Nghia, a sophomore at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, said.

Many young people have also been severely affected by the job market slump.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) said last year the youth unemployment rate in Vietnam was 10.8 percent, compared to 6.9 percent in 2019. It defined youths as workers aged 15 to 24.

In the third quarter the youth unemployment rate was 7.24 percent, 4.2 times the rate among people aged over 25.

On Facebook groups for headhunters and applicants, many people, mostly those embarking on a career, complain about how difficult it is to find a job.

“I spent five months looking for a job and got an internship, and then they told me they will not sign a contract because they want to cut their spending amid the pandemic,” one said.

“It is not ideal to be a young adult at the moment,” someone responded.

With the pandemic flattening dreams, plans and opportunities for young people, many face grave financial insecurity.

Some 52 percent of Vietnamese youths are worried about their financial situation, a survey by insurer Manulife found.

The travel restrictions since last year have forced many young people to put their plans on hold.

Le Thanh Trung, 23, has been waiting for months for his university in the U.S., the world’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot, to open so that he can start pursuing his graduate degree.

“I have deferred my enrollment from last fall to next summer, and so basically I have just held my breath for the last few months and waited; such a waste of time,” the Hanoian said.

Others have seen their wedding and baby plans disrupted.

There have been a lot of separations among young lovers, and many have no idea when they will meet again.

In Saigon, Nguyen Thi Kieu Trang has been waiting for her British boyfriend to come to Vietnam for their wedding, which was originally scheduled for last summer.

“There was no wedding,” Trang, 28, said. “The virus has delayed our wedding, and it will delay us having kids and other things.”

Without being able to get jobs and with other plans being disrupted, many are beginning to have mental issues.

“There has been a surge in the number of people with depression,” Dr Huynh Van Minh, head of the Vietnam Society of Hypertension, said.

The ILO has warned that high unemployment rates could lead to dangerous increases in depression and anxiety.

People wait to have unemployment benefits at the Hanoi Center for Employee Service in Cau Giay District, June 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

People wait to have unemployment benefits at the Hanoi Center for Employee Service in Cau Giay District, June 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.

Silver lining

Many young people have tried to look for positive things by making new plans or taking up new habits.

“I see the Covid-19 pandemic is a catalyst that forces me to rethink my spending habits,” Nguyen Thu An, a white-collar worker in Hanoi who admitted to being a spendthrift before the pandemic, said.

Others found new hobbies during the social distancing campaign last year, such as cooking and gardening, or began to spend time with their family unlike earlier.

“I found out that I love growing plants, and my room is now full of greenery,” Tung, the new graduate waiting to leave for the U.S., said.

He also learned some barista skills, and so “I do not have to go out for good coffee.”

The pandemic has made some young people realize that they must be adaptable, sociologist Trinh Hoa Binh told VnExpress International.

Le Viet Chung, 29, of Da Lat Town said the pandemic taught him to adapt after his employer in Saigon laid him off.

“I was depressed and shocked, but then a friend suggested that I should try to embark on a new path.” The Saigon salesperson thus became a manager of a hostel in Da Lat.

Sociologist Binh is optimistic, saying the pandemic is enabling young Vietnamese to improve by overcoming “challenges that life throws at them.”

“Many of them could become part of a lost generation, but in the long run they will learn and grow.”


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