Family festival enhances awareness on children drowning prevention

July 24, 2023 - 13:58
Every year, drowning takes the lives of nearly 2,000 children in Việt Nam. Although the number of children dying from drowning has decreased in recent years, it is still one of the top 10 causes of death for children under 16 years old.

HÀ NỘI – Various activities to enhance awareness of children drowning were organised at Thống Nhất Park in downtown Hà Nội on July 22 and 23.

The events included games such as face painting, flashmob performances themed on water safety, interactive games like "Knowledge cards", word-chasing, swimming buoy decorations, and more.

Parents also practised lifesaving skills with their children through the activity "Rescuing people".

Children play a game at the event. Photo Courtesy of organisers

Through activities and games, participants developed a practical understanding of the child drowning situation in Việt Nam, the importance of equipping children with water safety skills, as well as the role of families, parents and custodians in drowning prevention.

The event aims to respond the World Drowning Prevention Day (July 25), which was hosted by the Department of Child Affairs in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization and the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids of the United States.

World Drowning Prevention Day takes place at the peak of summer in Việt Nam.

Every year, drowning takes the lives of nearly 2,000 children in Việt Nam. Although the number of children dying from drowning has decreased in recent years, it is still one of the top 10 causes of death for children under 16 years old.

Children aged six to 15 are in the highest risk group for drowning when playing in rivers, lakes, ponds or beaches. In many cases, children get into accidents while trying to save their friends from drowning. The number of boys drowning is higher than that of girls. Children under the age of five are more likely to drown near or close to their homes, in lakes, rivers, streams, and canals, including puddles at construction sites.

Director General of the Department of Children's Affairs, Đặng Hoa Nam, said that drowning prevention measures including teaching children to swim and teaching water safety skills, and regularly supervising children at home and in communities are the most proven interventions. These measures have contributed to saving the lives of nearly 100 children from drowning every year, but the death toll is still high.

“Over the past five years, with the financial and technical support of the Bloomberg Philanthropies, WHO, the commitment of the Government, and the joint cooperation between ministries, the child drowning prevention programme in Việt Nam has achieved remarkable results. However, we still need to continue to take action and invest more resources to prevent child drowning. In particular, parents play an important role in warning their children about the risks of drowning and monitoring kids in open water environments to reduce deaths due to drowning", he said.

In order to protect children's lives, the Programme on Drowning Prevention in Việt Nam and Government are working towards the implementation of goals set out in the Programme on Child Accident and Injury Prevention in Việt Nam for the period of 2021 - 2030 issued by the Prime Minister. This aims to teach half of all children in the country to swim by 2030.

“The theme of this year's World Drowning Prevention Day is 'Anyone Can Drown, No-One Should’,” said Dr Angela Pratt, Chief Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Vietnam.

“Worldwide, more than 236,000 people die from drowning each year. The WHO recommends that the Vietnamese government focus on teaching school-age children basic swimming skills, water safety skills and safe water-saving skills.

These are cost-effective measures that have been proven effective in significantly reducing the risk of drowning and protecting children's lives. This is extremely important for children from the age of six to grow up safe and healthy.

Safe swimming skills not only follow them for life but also become a healthy way to improve physical fitness.”

Children in Việt Nam need proper swimming skills. Photo Courtesy of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Pratt also emphasised the important role of all stakeholders in joining hands to prevent child drowning prevention. She highly appreciated Việt Nam for the strong commitment from the National Assembly, the Government, ministries, localities, the community, and parents.

Đoàn Thu Huyền, Representative in Việt Nam of the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids (Global Health Advocacy Incubator) added: “Drowning is completely preventable with the care and practical actions of each family and individual.

More than anyone else, parents, relatives or teachers need to strengthen supervision of children, create opportunities for them to learn to swim safely, acquire water safety skills, and how to actively protect themselves in dangerous situations."

In Việt Nam, the WHO is helping to implement basic training programmes on swimming and water safety skills and the supervision of preschool children in the Safe Home model of the National Programme on Child Accident and Injury Prevention.

Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids (by Global Health Advocacy Incubator) is an American NGO founded in 1997.

Its mission is to support creating healthier lives for people through evidence-based policy development and advocacy, support community-based interventions and conduct research and effective communication campaigns.

In Việt Nam, the organisation is coordinating with ministries, branches and localities, universities and some socio-political organisations to implement many public health programmes such as tobacco harm prevention, child drowning prevention, road traffic safety and healthy nutrition. VNS