|Delegates discuss measures to strengthen policies and laws on child drowning prevention and control at a workshop in Hà Nội on December 7. — Photo courtesy of the organiser|
HÀ NỘI — Policymakers and experts discussed measures to strengthen policies and laws on child drowning prevention and control at a workshop in Hà Nội on Wednesday.
The event is a chance for participants to discuss and propose coordinated solutions to enhance the implementation efficiency of current laws and policies related to child drowning prevention and control.
Participants heard that drowning still was the leading cause of accidental death and injury among children and adolescents ages five to 14 years old in Việt Nam. In the period 2016-20, an average of more than 2,000 children died from drowning yearly in the country.
Director of the Children's Department, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Đặng Hoa Nam said that one of the effective measures to reduce the risk of drowning was to popularise swimming lessons for children.
Backing Nam’s opinion, Prof. Dr. Phạm Việt Cường from the University of Public Health said that so far, teaching children to swim was the most effective measure to prevent drowning from the experience of countries around the world.
“In China, for effective drowning prevention, experts recommend that swimming lessons in schools be made a compulsory physical education subject for students. Studies have shown that teaching children to swim is a way to reduce the risk of drowning in low- and middle-income countries such as rural areas of China, Bangladesh, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia,” said Cường.
Participants heard that Việt Nam has also achieved encouraging achievements in the implementation of legal policies and programmes on child drowning prevention in recent years.
One of the outstanding achievements is the Vietnam Children's Drowning Programme implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids/Global Health Advocacy Incubator since 2018 with the support of the Bloomberg Charity Foundation.
Over the past four years, the programme has taught more than 29,000 children aged six to 15 to swim for free, and nearly 50,000 children were trained on water safety skills at school. It also improved knowledge for parents and caregivers on how to take care of children, safety measures and drowning prevention, and built 87 swimming pools at schools.
The programme is implemented in 32 districts of 12 provinces with the highest burden of child drowning in the country. According to the programme's independent evaluation results, the rate of children knowing how to swim in the intervention areas has doubled, from 14.7 per cent in 2018 to 27 per cent in 2020, higher than the average rate of the whole country. There was a statistically significant 30 per cent reduction in the drowning rate among children.
“The special feature of the programme is the comprehensive solution, not only teaching children to swim but also equipping children with floating skills and safety knowledge. This is one of the recommendations on drowning prevention of the World Health Organisation,” said Đoàn Thu Huyền, Việt Nam country director of the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids.
In the period of 2023-25, Huyền added, Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids will provide additional support of US$2.1 million to implement its children's drowning prevention programme in Việt Nam. Accordingly, the intervention area will be expanded to 16 provinces and cities and more than 25,000 children from six to 15 years old will be taught to swim while 50,000 children will be trained in safety skills. — VNS