Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vietnam, US set up health task force on AO/dioxin - Vietnam, US set up health task force on AO/dioxin

Vietnam and the US have reached consensus on directions to address the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin in the Southeast Asian country, including the establishment of a health task force.

The two nations came to the decision during the fourth annual meeting of the Vietnam-US Joint Advisory Council (JAC) on AO which ended in Hanoi on September 10 after three days of talks.

The establishment of the health task force, following the environmental task force set up at the third meeting, is seen as a step forward by the JAC, said Le Ke Son, co-chair of the JAC, at a press conference following the event.

The health task force comprises experts chosen from both Vietnam and the US, said Son, who is also Deputy General Director of the General Environment Department.

The group will first gather all information related to AO/dioxin and their adverse effects on humans generally and in Vietnam in particular to help the JAC make accurate assessments of this issue, especially in AO/dioxin-contaminated areas.

The health task force will also put forth measures to prevent exposure in AO-affected areas and provide better health care to people who have been exposed or have a high likelihood of exposure to AO, said Son.

Having praised the establishment of the task force, US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak reiterated the US’s commitment to continue cooperating with Vietnam in seeking solutions to decontaminate the environment and provide health assistance to tackle the damage caused by AO/dioxin.

The diplomat revealed that the US is assisting Vietnam to address AO/dioxin contamination at Da Nang airport-one of the country’s three hot spots-with funding sourced from the US commitment of US$6 million.
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