Vietnam Aims to Reduce 20% Children Dying of Drowning in 2030

The UN resolution not only highlights the enormous impact of drowning on the safety and lives of people but also for every country's sustainable development.
July 24, 2021 | 23:46
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Vietnam Aims to Reduce 20% Children Dying of Drowning in 2030
Photo: Bao Tuyen Quang

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Training, WHO, and GHAI (Global Health Policy Advocacy Incubator) held an online seminar on July 23 on the occasion of the World Drowning Prevention Day, which falls on July 25. The event is included in a series of activities in response to the UN General Assembly's first resolution in history on drowning prevention and control.

The event welcomed Nguyen Thi Ha - Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Nho Huy - Deputy Director of Physical Education Department (Ministry of Education and Training), Kidong Park - WHO Representative in Vietnam, Doan Thu Huyen - Country Director of the Global Health Policy Advocacy Incubator. Besides, representatives of ministries, organizations, and 12 localities implementing programs to prevent drowning on children, also attended.

Vietnam Aims to Reduce 20% Children Dying of Drowning in 2030
Speakers at the event.

Drowning - top death reason of 5-14-year-old children

Prof. Kidong Park, WHO Representative said that drowning was one of the top ten death reasons of 5-14-year-old children. Drowning leaves severe impacts on the families and society, however, the issue has not yet received adequate attention.

On April 28, 2021, for the first time in history, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution about drowning prevention, with earned consensus from all member states. This year is themed "Everyone is at risk of drowning but it is completely preventable."

According to Kidong Park, this is a historic moment in drowning prevention and control. The UN resolution points out that drowning has a negative impact on the sustainable development of each country. Drowning prevention solutions involve initiatives and consensus on climate change response and disaster reduction.

The resolution has chosen July 25 as World Drowning Prevention Day. This is a good opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of drowning prevention and call for multi-sectoral coordination for life-saving solutions. The resolution encourages member states to develop their national action plans on drowning prevention in line with interventions recommended by the WHO.

Vietnam Aims to Reduce 20% Children Dying of Drowning in 2030
Kidong Park - WHO Representative in Vietnam. (Photo: WHO)

"Losing a child for drowning is a tragedy that a family has to endure and no family should go through such pain, no one should,” said Park. "The governments and partners have had solutions to reduce drowning deaths, but at the community level, we also need to raise awareness of each family to protect their children from drowning.”

In Vietnam, although initial results are encouraging with an average reduction of 100 child drowning cases per year, drowning still remains one of the leading causes of child death. Figures estimated in 2020 show that about 2,000 children under 16 years old die from drowning each year.

Nguyen Thi Ha - Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said: "Child drowning prevention and control is always one of the top priorities in the national action plan.” The legal framework system relating to drowning prevention and control is being completed.

The Prime Minister issued Decision No. 1248/QD-TTg on July 19, 2021, to approve the program on prevention and control of child accidents and injuries in the 2021-2030 period. The program aims to reduce the number of children dying from drowning by 20%. Evidence-based interventions such as swimming and safety skills training will be implemented nationwide.

Ha emphasized the responsibility of each family and each individual in child drowning prevention. In fact, many potential causes leading to child injuries and accidents lie around children's living environment. Besides, many challenges in training skills and creating a safe environment for children still remain unsolved.

Vietnam Aims to Reduce 20% Children Dying of Drowning in 2030
A child learning to swim. (Photo: Zing)

Improve children's safety skills in the water environment

To overcome the challenges, promote the recent achievements, and well-implement the assigned targets, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs has been closely coordinating with ministries, agencies, and local authorities to ensure a safe living environment, avoid children's accidents, and injuries, and prevent child drowning. At the same time, the ministry aims to strengthen safety skills in the water environment training for parents and children. It will coordinate with functional units to hold inspections, and supervision to detect and avoid drowning risks to ensure safety for children.

The UN resolution not only highlights the enormous impact of drowning on the safety and lives of people but also on the sustainable development of each country.

Vietnam Aims to Reduce 20% Children Dying of Drowning in 2030
A swimming class for children.

To strengthen drowning prevention and control programs, effective and evidence-based interventions have been developed to suit Vietnam's context. With financial support from the Bloomberg Philanthropy Foundation and technical support from the WHO and Global Health Advocacy Incubator, the drowning prevention program has taught 14,000 children from 6 to 15 years old to swim and taught water safety skills to more than 30,200 children in 8 provinces with the highest rates of child drowning in the country. The program, which has developed teaching materials for children's safe swimming and water safety skills, will be implemented nationwide.

Doan Thu Huyen, Country Director of the Global Health Advocacy Incubator in Vietnam said: “We are proud to accompany in implementing a meaningful program to contribute to ensuring children's survival from drowning accidents. We hope to share experiences to implement the program nationwide, which needs the investment of the local government and the support of each family and the community.”

Every family in Vietnam can make a practical contribution to drowning prevention by supervising their children, teaching them how to swim, giving them safety skills in the water environment trainings, and creating a safe environment for children to avoid being near water bodies.

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