Child Drowning Reduction Workshop held in Hanoi

Representatives of the 15 Vietnamese Provinces with the highest rates of child drowning met on the 18th January 2011 in Hanoi, along with representatives of the National Assembly, Mini

Representatives of the 15 Vietnamese Provinces with the highest rates of child drowning met on the 18th January 2011 in Hanoi, along with representatives of the National Assembly, Ministry of Labour, Invalids, Social Affairs (MoLISA), and representatives of UNICEF Vietnam, International Life Saving Federation, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, WHO, Save the Children and Child Fund Vietnam.

The Workshop was expertly chaired by Mr. Doan Mau Diep ” Deputy Minister of MOLISA, along with co-chairs Ms. Ngo Thi Minh- Vice Chairwoman of the Committee of Culture, Education, Youth and Children of National Assembly, Mr Justin Scarr ” Representative of the International Life Saving Federation and RLSSA, Mr Craig Burgess ” Section Chief of UNICEF in Vietnam and Mr. Nguyen Hai Huu ” Director General of Department of Child Protection and Care.

“Child Drowning represents 39.2% of all injury deaths in children aged 0-19 years in Vietnam, with many deaths occurring in close proximity to the home and whilst children aged 5-9 are playing unsupervised according to Dr Nguyen Trong An, Deputy Director – Child Protection and Care, MoLISA.

MoLISA has been enlisted by the Government to coordinate a national response to child drowning as the leading cause of child mortality as part of its National Plan for Child Injury Prevention.

The Workshop, held with financial support from the Australian Government, served as a six month review of progress of commitments made by the 15 Provinces in July 2010 when they were asked by MoLISA and UNICEF to devise provincial plans of action for child drowning prevention which include; training and skills in swimming and water safety, improving the environment, strengthening capacity of staff, strengthening and implementing laws.

At the workshop each province provided an account of progress including the main causes of child drowning in their Province, progress in planning and implementation, and some suggestions on strategies for the future. Most Provinces attributed the high rates of child drowning to large family sizes, proximity to water used in farming, cooking and washing, high use of water craft without appropriate safety precautions, low rates of swimming and water safety skills, a general lack of awareness of drowning prevention and the impacts of flooding.

In her opening address Madame Minh stated that “It’s necessary to get the coordination among organizations and the effort of the whole society to prevent children drowning accident. This point was reinforced as representatives reaffirmed their commitment, and outlined the current status of their plans of action. It was also evidenced through participation of Ministries of Transport, Public Security and the Youth Union, who each presented updates on their key activities.

The challenges of teaching children swimming and water safety in rural and in some cases remote areas without access to swimming pools, skilled instructors and awareness across the community was a reoccurring theme. Many provinces reported increases in public awareness achieved largely through engaging mass media ad conducting specific campaigning. Interim figures suggested this was having an immediate impact, although all present understood the magnitude of the challenge of achieving a sustainable reduction in child drowning.

The Workshop was delivered as part of the legacy activities of the World Conference on Drowning 2011 utilising funding support from the Australian Government. A summary report of the Vietnam Plan of Action for Child Drowning Prevention is being developed with assistance of UNICEF Vietnam for presentation at the conference.