A conference was held in Hanoi on December 17 to review the implementation of a project to rehabilitate people affected by Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin in Vietnam.

Speaking at the conference, jointly held by the Health Ministry and the Hanoi School of Public Health, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien said the project brought practical benefits for AO/dioxin victims and disabled people as they have seen their health improve.

According to Dr. Tran Trong Hai, the project’s vice director, the project was implemented in several districts in the three provinces of Thai Binh, Quang Ngai and Dong Nai from 2008-2013.

It aimed to improve the quality of life and help AO victims integrate into the community via rehabilitation intervention measures, provide aid devices and knowledge transfer, and propose amendments to legal documents on rehabilitation for the infected.

The project targeted AO/dioxin victims, who met difficulties in moving, seeing, hearing, speaking and studying, and those with strange behaviour, epilepsy, cancer and relevant chronic diseases.

After five years implementation, the project provided health check-ups for 6,670 victims of toxic chemicals and disabled people and offered medical devices to 1,266 others.

More than 1,000 people received surgery and were rehabilitated in hospitals, while over 7,500 others got the help at home. Ninety percent of them saw improvements in their health and were able to normalise their lives.

In the coming time, the project will be expanded to all districts in the three abovementioned provinces, and three new localities, namely Lao Cai, Quang Nam and Ben Tre. It is scheduled to cover all localities across the country after 2020.

Preliminary statistics by Vietnamese scientists indicated about three million Vietnamese people were exposed to dioxin, while statistics from US scientists at Columbia University showed that the number is anywhere between 2.1 - 4.8 million. The toxic chemicals still have a severe influence on Vietnam ’s filial generation today.

According to the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), US troops sprayed 80 million litres of the defoliant Agent Orange, which contained almost 400 kg of toxic dioxin, on Vietnam ’s southern battlefields during a 10-year period beginning on August 10, 1961.-VNA