USD 2.1 Million in Additional Funding Granted for Child Drowning Prevention in Vietnam

On June 1st, 2023, the Department of Child Affairs (MOLISA), Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids (Global Health Advocacy Incubator) announced a Memorandum of Understanding and cooperation agreement to collaborate on drowning prevention for Vietnamese children from 2023 to 2025.

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Drowning has been one of the most significant causes of death for children aged 5-14 in Vietnam in recent years. On average, there are more than 3,500 drowning deaths each year, with close to 2,000 of these being children. This alarming statistic makes it ever more important to broaden and intensify the scope of child drowning prevention projects across the country, as well as to strengthen the cooperation and active participation of local government branches, unions, and international organizations to create an interdisciplinary network to prevent drowning.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation Agreement between the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and Bloomberg Philanthropies marks a new period of collaboration for the purpose of preventing child drowning. Bloomberg Philanthropies has pledged to provide both financial and technical assistance to the Ministry in order to implement the Child Drowning Prevention Program from 2023 to 2025. This program is based on the Child Injury Prevention Program approved by the Prime Minister for the 2021-2030 period.

Additional Support of USD 2.1 million for Child Drowning Prevention in Vietnam
The announcement ceremony took place in the office of the Department of Child Affairs (MOLISA) on June 1,

Five years ago, the Child Drowning Prevention Program was launched with the support of 2.1 million USD and pilot interventions in 8 provinces that had the highest rate of child drowning in the country. Thanks to the guidance of the Government and the combined efforts of various ministries, branches and localities, the mortality rate from drowning has decreased considerably over the past five years, both in terms of the number of accidents and fatalities.

The Child Drowning Prevention Program has supported many localities to approach and properly implement 10 recommendations on solutions and interventions for drowning prevention provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). The program has helped localities to apply international standards on safe swimming teaching techniques and safety skills for children, while also developing and completing policies and programs on injury and drowning prevention. By following these standards, localities are better equipped to protect children from drowning and reduce the number of cases of childhood drowning.

Over the past 5 years, the program has trained 800 core and provincial staff in safe swimming and drowning prevention. Additionally, 29,849 children aged 6 to 15 have been taught safe swimming, while 50,200 children have learned water safety skills at school.

The program has constructed 14 smart swimming pools, mobilized 73 local swimming pools to provide safe swimming lessons for children, and conducted training courses to enhance the awareness and capacity of educational cadres for the management and coordination of child drowning prevention programs. Following the intervention, there was a notable improvement in people’s knowledge about drowning in certain areas. The awareness of the risk of death by drowning in the intervention area rose from 63.3% to 73.5%, while the awareness of drowning among different age groups increased from 47.1% to 68.1%.

Additional Support of USD 2.1 million for Child Drowning Prevention in Vietnam
Bloomberg Philanthropies commits to accompanying and providing additional support of 2.1 million USD to help the MOLISA of Vietnam achieve set goals of child drowning prevention.

In the next three years, the program will provide free training to at least 200 supervisors and instructors on safe swimming and water safety skills. Furthermore, it will equip 25,760 children aged 6 to 15 with survival swimming capabilities. Additionally, the program will continue to bolster inter-sectoral coordination on child drowning prevention and enhance the capacity of ministries and organizations to implement standardized guidelines on safe swimming and safety skills.

Doan Thu Huyen, Country Director of the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids (Global Health Advocacy Incubator), emphasized that drowning is entirely preventable if every family and individual take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of their children. She pointed out that knowing how to swim is not sufficient, and children need to possess water safety skills, and defend themselves in precarious situations.

Deputy Director General of the Department of Child Affairs Vu Thi Kim Hoa expressed her conviction that Vietnam could accomplish the objective of ensuring that 50% of children aged 6-15 can swim, and 60% of children are taught water safety skills with the timely support of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids (Global Health Advocacy Incubator). Hoa also remarked that this was a valuable gift for Vietnamese children on the occasion of International Children’s Day and Action Month for Children 2023.

Amy Mai Nguyen