Sao Mai Education Fund 

FROM VIETNAM NEWS

 18 APRIL 2003

Viet Nam improves quality of life for people with disabilities

HA NOI — Vice President Truong My Hoa has exulted the efforts of the disabled to better their living standards and the excellence many of them have achieved in education and sports.

At a meeting on Thursday in Ha Noi to mark National Day for the Disabled, April 18, Hoa also applauded charity organisations both at home and abroad for their continued efforts to mitigate thoughts of inferiority among the disabled.

Pointing out that the Government offered plenty of incentives for people with disabilities to integrate into the community, she appealed to organisations and individuals to help the disabled have greater access to jobs, poverty reduction schemes, and information technology.

Almost 300 people, including representatives of foreign NGOs, attended the meeting.

Nation reaches out

To turn the spotlight on the lean living conditions of the more than 5 million people with disabilities in the country, Viet Nam has designated April 18 as National Day for the Disabled.

The disabled make up some 7 per cent of the country’s total population, according to figures from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Many of them are victims of Agent Orange sprayed by US forces during their war of aggression in Viet Nam more than 30 years ago.

Facing obstacles from immobility, blindness, inability to communicate and psychological damage, most disabled Vietnamese live in poverty, according to the ministry.

Eighty-seven per cent live in rural areas. Most lack the capital and tools to make a living – and even basic home appliances such as TVs and radios.

As a result, some people with disabilities have little access to education, vocational training, cultural and sport activities, or entertainment.

In 1998, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee approved a decree creating opportunities for disabled people in terms of employment and job training, taking out loans, health care and physical therapy, education and athletics.

The country now has more than 200 shelters for the disabled, 75 per cent of which are State-run, according to official figures. Nearly 23,000 veterans and their 40,000 children suffering from the aftermath of Agent Orange were enlisted for the Government welfare rolls last year, joining millions already receiving benefits, according to the ministry.

The more than 400 production and trading companies owned by disabled businessmen have created jobs for about 15,000 others.

The country’s 70 schools for the disabled accommodate about 6,000 children, while 50,000 others study in normal schools. The Ministry of Education and Training has said it hopes to keep this number on the rise by having 300 university graduates specialise in teaching disabled children next year.

Annually, some 50,000 children receive funding from a State programme to care for disabled kids, and nearly 62,000 disabled people are given free health insurance cards.

Furthermore, Viet Nam boasts about 50 physical therapy clinics for the disabled across the country, in addition to the dozens of rehabilitation centres found in most State and provincial hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health. — VNS


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