The Health Ministry and the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin (VAVA) discussed measures to strengthen their cooperation in providing care for AO victims at a meeting in Hanoi on August 20.

VAVA President Nguyen Van Rinh asked the health ministry to continue advising the government in improving support policies target AO victims and their children.

At the same time, he urged the ministry issue treatment guidance for toxic chemical-related diseases and regulations on verification of AO-related diseases.

The VAVA head also suggested that the health ministry give detailed guidance for the import of health food that can be used in detoxification treatment for AO victims, to assist with the operation of detox centres nationwide.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien pledged that her ministry will continue to work closely with the VAVA in providing health care to AO victims, adding that the ministry will coordinate with relevant agencies to streamline procedures for the victims in getting support and assistance.

From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides - 44 million litres of which were AO that contained nearly 370kg of dioxin - over southern Vietnam.

As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to the toxic chemical. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases due to the chemical’s effects.

Vietnam has adopted a number of policies specifically designed for Agent Orange (AO)/Dioxin victims, supporting them with vocational training and medical treatment.

However, supporting policies for the victims should be updated and improved regularly as only 300,000 out of the three million people affected by the toxic chemical benefit from the incentives.

Established in January 2014, VAVA now has chapters in 59 cities and provinces with over 315,000 members. It has raised more than 800 billion VND (37.8 million USD) in and outside of the country to repair and build houses, grant scholarships, and offer relief for AO victims and their families.-VNA