New Life-Saving Drowning Prevention Program in Vietnam launched today

News release
26 June 2018

A new life-saving child drowning prevention program was launched today by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI). Dr. Kelly Henning, Director of Public Health Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced a commitment of $2.4 million for the first two years of this five-year program.

Drowning is a silent epidemic claiming more than 2,000 children’s lives per year in Viet Nam. The rate of child drowning in Vietnam is higher than other Southeast Asian countries and 10 times higher than that of developed countries. Globally, every year about 360,000 people lost their lives by drowning. More than 90% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

“Data have showed that the drowning rate among children in Vietnam is particularly high, but it is also preventable,” said Dr. Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Vietnam. “What we need is a whole of multi sector approach and strong participation of the communities that involve the children and their parents and caretakers, which is what the program is aiming at.”

The new program will support child drowning prevention in Vietnam. The child drowning prevention program in Vietnam will consist of two proven interventions: 1) Implement measures to ensure effective child supervision for prevention of drowning among children under five and 2) Provide survival swimming and water safety skills to children aged six to fifteen years old. It will also raise awareness on childhood drowning, risk factors and preventive measures, and strengthen capacity on program management, coordination and collaboration amongst relevant agencies and implementors of the child drowning prevention program in Vietnam.

“Vietnam has undertaken significant efforts to prevent child drowning, including adopting a strong legal framework,” said Her Excellency Mrs. Nguyen Thi Ha, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs. “The Law on Children passed in 2016 provided for the state’s responsibilities for implementing measures to prevent child injuries. The Prime Minister of Vietnam also approved a significant policy document, numbered 234/QĐ-TTg, outlining the national plan for prevention of child injuries for the period of 2016-2020, targeting the reduction of child drowning prevalence. Following the close coordination among relevant ministries and social organizations, and with the support of national and international organizations and strong commitment of each locality, we can all contribute and realize this vision while securing a safe environment and protecting the right of survival for children.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported community daycare in Bangladesh since 2012 and recorded a significant reduction in drowning among the children who attend daycare. “We have selected Viet Nam among new global drowning prevention initiative target countries because of the strong commitment from the government and the nation’s burden of child drowning deaths” said Dr. Kelly Henning, Director of Public Health Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re grateful that Her Excellency Mrs. Nguyen Thi Ha, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and Michael Bloomberg, the WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, are bringing two cost-effective, sustainable interventions—supervised day care and survival swim lessons—to Vietnam, where they will help save the lives of thousands of children.”

“The Global Health Advocacy Incubator is proud to help implement a sustainable program to reduce childhood drownings in Vietnam,” said Global Health Advocacy Incubator Managing Director Marina Carter. “We are grateful for the commitment of MOLISA, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and WHO, as our decades of experience tackling public health challenges have shown that a partnership of passionate advocates leads to sustainable program to save lives of children”

The program will begin with targeted support to local governments and communities in eight provinces of Vietnam: Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ninh Binh, Quang Binh, Thanh Hoa, Dak Lak, Dong Thap, Soc Trang. In addition, the program will also benefit drowning prevention in Vietnam as a whole through improved capacity of national implementers.

About the partners:

Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs of Vietnam S.R (MOLISA)
MOLISA is a lead ministerial agency for child injury prevention program and child drowning prevention. MOLISA focuses its efforts on policy advocacy and development, community-based interventions, and communication through multi-sector collaboration and leadership.

Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

World Health Organization in Vietnam
With its role being the directing and coordinating authority in global public health within the United Nations, the World Health Organization works with governments of 194 Member States to achieve its mission, which is the highest possible level of health and well-being for all people. WHO’s presence in Vietnam was established in 1977, and the organization is focusing its efforts to support for the government of Vietnam to achieve universal health coverage, ensure public health security and safety, and manage communicable and non-communicable diseases of public health importance. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook.

Global Health Advocacy Incubator
The Global Health Advocacy Incubator at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids advances public health policies to build a healthier and safer world. Drawing on decades of international experience working in diverse political systems, with global civil society organizations and across a variety of public health issues, we provide strategic support to advocates campaigning to enact and implement laws that save lives. The Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s broad experience and international reach allows us to codify global best practices in policy advocacy, produce impactful advocacy tools and bring experienced staff to policy change campaigns. It allows us to catalyze – and energize – a sustainable movement of passionate advocates at the local, national, regional and international levels.