Drowning is a major cause of child mortality in Viet Nam.According to MOLISA, in 2016, over 2,000 children lost their lives due to drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of all deaths among children from 2-14 years old.
"The higher burden of drowning in poor and remote areas also highlight the inequity in children's access to social services," said Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.
According to Madame Dao Hong Lan, Deputy Minister of MOLISA, Viet Nam has a complicated water system, which poses a great risk to child drowning as well as child drowning prevention. Besides, the country lacks the necessary facilities to provide swimming lessons, while children and their family lack the awareness and skills to protect themselves.
The drowning rate in Viet Nam is 6.7 percent, which is among the highest in the Western Pacific Region, where 78,000 people die from drowning each year, according to David Meddings, Scientist of Unintentional Injury Prevention Unit, Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO Geneva.
"We highly appreciate the support from the private sector and international organizations for the government of Viet Nam in drowning prevention in Viet Nam," said Madame Lan at the workshop.
The Bloomberg Initiative to address global drowning problem will be implemented between 2018-22 in two phases, with the first phase being 2018-19. In Viet Nam, the project will be implemented in six provinces which have high burden of child drowning, in Northern mountainous region (Lao Cai, Yen Bai); Red river delta (Ninh Binh); Central-Central Highlands (Quang Binh, Kon Tum); and Mekong delta (Dong Thap).
The main interventions recommended by WHO are teaching survival swimming and increasing children’s supervision through day care centers.
Learning from the experience in child drowning prevention from Bangladesh, the involvement of families, local authorities as well as communities is key to the success of the interventions.
"Viet Nam already shows high commitment in drowning prevention with engagement from the various ministries," said Ms. Kelly Larson, Bloomberg Philanthropies. "We are fully committed to preventing drowning. We have government commitment here in Viet Nam and we look forward to the implementation."
The consultation workshop is organized to develop an outline of key project interventions, discuss mechanisms for project coordination, monitoring and supervision at national and provincial levels, and provide updates on effective interventions for child drowning prevention.