National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan speaks at the charity gala (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A charity gala in Hanoi on June 4 raised more than 21 billion VND (924,800 USD) to support disadvantaged children with heart diseases.

The event, held by Vietnam Television (VTV) and military-run telecommunications group Viettel, was part of the VTV’s Operation Healthy Heart programme, now in its ninth year. It took place amidst the Action Month for Children, drawing officials, doctors and philanthropists.

Speaking at the gala, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the programme has given a bright future to poor children with congenital heart diseases.

She also applauded donations from VTV’s Tam long Viet (Vietnam’s heart) fund, Viettel and domestic and foreign sponsors who have funded 120 billion VND (5.28 million USD) for heart surgeries for 3,500 disadvantaged children over the past nine years.

On the occasion, the “Operation Healthy Heart” programme and the Vietnam Red Cross Society launched a texting campaign until July 13 to call for assistance for the children. People can send their support by texting “TTCE” to 1409, with each message donating of 18,000 VND (0.8 USD).

The programme expects 3,000 children to receive surgeries and 30,000 others to have heart disease screening from now to 2020.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that there are 44,600 children under six years old with congenital heart diseases in Vietnam. About 60 percent of them are from low-income families.

Some 8,000 – 10,000 children are born with congenital heart diseases in Vietnam each year. Fifty percent of them have serious diseases and need immediate surgery.-VNA