WHO and MOLISA to join forces for child drowning prevention

Ha Noi - 23 January 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA) with support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies will work together for child drowning prevention in Viet Nam. As the first step, the focus will be given to the following 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).

WHO Viet Nam\Loan Tran

On 23 January 2018 in Ha Noi, a consultation workshop was held with the participation from WHO, MOLISA, six provinces, the Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partner agency, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator as well as experts from the Hanoi University of Public Health and Bangladesh International Drowning Research Centre.

The drowning rate in Viet Nam is 6.7%, which is among the highest in the Western Pacific Region, where 78,000 people die from drowning each year. In Viet Nam, over 2,000 children lost their lives due to drowning in 2016.

"The higher burden of drowning in poor and remote areas also highlights the inequity in children's access to social services," said Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.

WHO Viet Nam\Loan Tran

Viet Nam has a complicated water system, which poses 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.

Recognizing this problem, the Government has aimed to reduce child drowning mortality by 6% in 2020 compared with 2015 in its National Plan for Child Injury Prevention 2016-2020 and has implemented different policies and programmes to prevent drowning in children, such as teaching survival swimming skills to school-aged children. An estimated 900,000 primary school students have basic swimming skills to date. However, this only represents 12% of national primary school students.

WHO Viet Nam\Loan Tran

The workshop participants agreed on two key interventions of teaching survival swimming and increasing children’s supervision through day care centers. Participants also discussed mechanisms for project coordination, monitoring and supervision at national and provincial levels.

It is expected that the support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies will be a great help to achieve the target set by the National Plan. "Viet Nam already shows high commitment in drowning prevention with engagement from the various ministries," said Ms. Kelly Larson, Public Health Programme, Bloomberg Philanthropies. "We are fully committed to preventing drowning. We have government commitment here in Viet Nam and we look forward to the implementation."

"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 Dao Hong Lan, Vice Minister of MOLISA.