The Northwest Steering Committee and the Vietnam Red Cross have pledged to maintain the social welfare programmes in the region following a review meeting of their joint programme for 2013-2015.

The Northwest region includes Dien Bien, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Son La, Lao Cai and Yen Bai provinces. The region is home to many ethnic minorities and its socio-economic development lags behind other regions.

A report presented during the review session in Yen Bai province on May 29 states that the Northwest received 770 billion VND (35.3 million USD) in assistance from a range of agencies, economic groups, enterprises and individuals in and outside the country.

Many programmes have been implemented effectively, including building new-style rural areas in ethnic minority communities in border communes, providing support to disadvantaged households and victims of Agent Orange over Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, or offering free medical examinations and medication.

Participants in the meeting highlighted a number of challenges that need to be overcome in upcoming time.

The two agencies said they would call upon organisations, enterprises and individuals to make more donations.-VNA