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Saving Lives Through Drowning Prevention in Vietnam

On May 25, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator supported the Government of Vietnam’s kickoff of the National Action Month for Children. An annual event that prioritizes critical issues affecting the nation’s children, in 2019 the month is dedicated for the first time to drowning prevention. The launch was attended by 2,400 participants, including government representatives, policymakers, government agencies, the drowning prevention community, and students and families from Thanh Hoa, a priority province for intervention. The Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, HE. Vu Duc Dam, chaired the event with Minister Dao Ngoc Dung of the Ministry of Labor Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and Nguyen Dinh Xung, President of the Provincial People’s Committee of Thanh Hoa.

Seven children die from drowning in Vietnam every day. The Vietnamese government recognizes child drowning as a critical problem, and has resolved to fix it. Bloomberg Philanthropies provided financial support in June 2018, and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and World Health Organization worked with Vietnam to launch a drowning prevention program in eight high-burden provinces. GHAI partnered with MOLISA, the lead government agency, to design and implement a sustainable program that will save lives by teaching children survival swimming skills.

The program provides infrastructure and standardized technical training for over four hundred swim instructors, who will go on to provide survival swim lessons children ages 6-15. We expect to 8,200 children to be reached in the first year of what is a five-year commitment. In addition, the program will utilize local authorities to educate communities on water safety skills, with the goal of reaching over 16,000 children and their families by the end of this year. GHAI’s role is to ensure that the program is institutionalized within government programs and budgets so that the necessary infrastructure, budget and human resources are sustained after the end of international funding.

We thank the government of Vietnam for their commitment to protecting children from drowning, and we look forward to working together over the next five years to evaluate, scale up, and sustain this life-saving program.