Although the number of children who have drowned in Vietnam has fallen in recent years, drowning is still one of the leading causes of death among children.
Over the past decade, drowning has claimed the lives of more than 2.5 million people globally. It is estimated that every year about 236,000 people die of drowning.
More than 90% of drowning accidents occur in low- and middle-income countries. This serious figure does not include the number of deaths due to waterway traffic accidents and natural disasters.
Every year, Vietnam still has about 2,000 children under 16 years old die of drowning.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said that child drowning prevention and control is one of the top priorities in the National Action Plan to prevent and combat child accidents and injuries.
“We have been working closely with relevant ministries, branches and local authorities to take measures to ensure a safe living environment, prevent children's accidents and injuries, and prevent drowning among children," Ha said.
Accordingly, the legal framework related to child drowning prevention and control is becoming completed.
On July 19, the Vietnamese Prime Minister issued a Decision approving the Program on prevention and control of child accidents and injuries in the 2021-2030 period with the goal of reducing the number of children dying of drowning by 20%. Evidence-based interventions such as teaching safe swimming and safety skills in water environments will be implemented nationwide.
“Losing a child to drowning is a tragedy that must be endured by a family and no parent should go through that pain,” said Dr. Kidong Park, World Health Organization Representative in Vietnam.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs coordinated with the Global Health Policy Advocacy Organization to implement a drowning prevention program with technical support from the World Health Organization in the 2018-2020 period.
The program taught about 14,000 children between the ages of 6 and 15 how to swim and taught safety skills in water to more than 30,200 children in eight provinces with the highest drowning rates in the country. The program develops instruction manuals for safe swimming, teaches children safety skills in the water environment, and disseminates the materials widely.
With the aim to reduce the risk of drowning, the Ministry of Education and Training has issued the drowning prevention plan amongst children in 2021 in which the Ministry encouraged schools to organize swimming classes to reduce the risk of drowning.