Vietnam has set a target of evaluating socio-economic damage caused by Agent Orange/dioxin completely by 2015, said a Vietnamese senior scientist.

The target, part of the national action plan on addressing the consequences of AO/dioxin in Vietnam, was delivered by Dr. Lai Minh Hien, Acting Chief of the Office of the National Steering Committee for Overcoming Consequences of Toxic Chemicals used by the US during the Vietnam War (called Office of National Steering Committee 33) at the fourth meeting of the US-Vietnam Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) on Agent Orange and its contaminant, dioxin in Hanoi on September 8.

According to the action plan, Vietnam will strive to determine the amount of acreage, in terms of land and sediment, in heavily-contaminated areas that need to be treated. It will also complete a general survey on the number of people exposed to the toxic chemical nationwide during the 2011-12 period.

The plan also targets subsidizing health insurance for about 70 percent of households with members exposed to AO/dioxin and medical checks-up for all pregnant women living in “hotspots” by 2015.

It also envisions generalised services relating to health care, functional rehabilitation, hereditary counselling, and pre-natal diagnosis for pregnant women living in key areas by 2020.

According to the scientist, priority will be given to removing toxic chemicals in Bien Hoa airport, in the southern province of Dong Nai , Da Nang airport, in the centre of the country, and Phu Cat airport in the southern province of Binh Dinh , which are currently regarded the three “dioxin hotspots” in the country.

More than 21 million USD is estimated to be spent on the work at the three airports in the 2008-2012 period, and another 58.6 million USD is planned for 2012 through 2015.

Hien said a 5 million USD remediation project carried out at Bien Hoa airport by the Ministry of Defence since 2007 is expected to complete its first phase late this year.

Vietnamese and US experts are joining hands in cleansing Da Nang airport while remediation work using the Czech Republic ’s ODA funding of 1.5 million USD is also underway at Phu Cat airport.

To fulfil the action plan, Vietnam will step up research to provide scientific and practical grounds for the establishment of detoxification measures and healthcare solutions for AO/dioxin victims, Dr. Hien said.

The country has set to work to mobilise more support from international communities, the US government and other countries in efforts to address AO/dioxin damage in Vietnam./.