Kelly Larson - Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health:

"Vietnam is A Leader in Drowning Prevention"

On the occasion of Bloomberg Philanthropies' Partner Meeting in Hanoi from July 19-22, Director of Bloomberg Philanthropies' road safety and drowning prevention program Kelly Larson spoke with a VietnamTimes reporter about the priorities of water safety to reduce child drowning across Vietnam.
July 24, 2023 | 08:20

What are the drowning prevention interventions that Bloomberg Philanthropies cooperates with partners in Vietnam over the years?

Partner meeting interview
Director of Bloomberg Philanthropies' road safety and drowning prevention program Kelly Larson

Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting Vietnam to implement drowning prevention interventions through cooperation with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids & Social Affairs, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Organization. We started our child drowning prevention intervention programs in Bangladesh in 2012 for 0-4 year olds. The program was later expanded to Vietnamrom in 2018. From the start, we identified that children 6 to 15 are at greatest risk of drowning. Drowning accounts for about 2000 deaths of Vietnamese children from this age group every year.

Through MOLISA, we have received great interest and support from relevant ministries and localities, especially, in making to effort to implement the Nation Plan to prevent child injuries until 2030 and to reduce the rate of child drowning by 10%.

From the very beginning of the partnership, the Vietnamese government was fully invested to ensure that the program was run efficiently. As a result, we expanded the program from 8 provinces to all over the country. At the same time, MOLISA also coordinated with 9 relevant ministries and sectors to implement effective activities. From these remarkable efforts, local provinces have increased investment in drowning prevention and safe swimming. It demonstrates the commitment of Vietnam to reduce drowning deaths among 6 to 15-year-old children.

How do these cooperations help the drowning situations in Vietnam?

We have been implementing drowning prevention interventions in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Uganda and Ghana, India. In these countries, we support the leading organizations on drowning prevention to implement programs or to collect data on the circumstances of drowning.

In Vietnam, from 19-22 July, we organized a Partner Meeting for the drowning prevention experts to discuss programs in their respective countries and to share the lessons over the course of implementing these programs. Vietnam was chosen as the country to host this event because we have seen Vietnam as a leader in drowning prevention, that MOLISA is co hosting this Partner meeting showcases the commitment that Vietnam has made to reduce drowning throughout the country.

The situation in drowning prevention and control in Vietnam should be prioritized for people aged 6 to 15. In Vietnam, 6 to 15-year-old children are at the greatest risk of drowning. Safe swimming has proven to be the most appropriate drawing intervention for children in this age group. The implementation and expansion of safe swimming interventions to other localities outside the program have been very well done, including the development of swimming instruction standards, instructor training and especially the coordination with relevant ministries, especially the Ministry of Education and Training to have a multi-sectoral approach and help popularize the program to many provinces around the country.

What are the targets for Bloomberg Philanthropies' drowning prevention interventions in Vietnam in the upcoming time?

In the beginning, we set targets to teach safe swimming to 50,000 children for free. After 5 years of implementation, the program offers free swimming training classes to nearly 30,000 children and teaches safety skills to nearly 52,000 children. In the area where the program is implemented, the child drowning rate said significantly each year. In light of the remarkable results, we are now aiming for 80,000 children to benefit from this program by 2025.

Bloomberg Philanthropies (US) includes Michael Bloomberg's foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works with mayors in cities around the world.

Since 2018, through cooperation with MOLISA, Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded drowning prevention programs for children in local with the most severe drowning situations. The main intervention is to teach swimming and water safety skills to children aged 5 to 15 years.

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