Injury is responsible for nearly 75 per cent of deaths among children older than one year of age, according to the Viet Nam Multi-center Injury Survey (2001). The leading causes include drowning, traffic accidents, poisoning, injury due to sharp objects and burning. This heavy toll seriously diminishes the country’s achievements in improving child survival rates.
Not only are most injuries preventable, but social and economic inequalities also aggravate the impact of childhood injury. An analysis of childhood injuries in 2003 showed that children from the poorest families were more frequently injured than those from better-off families. In addition to inflicting great physical and emotional suffering, serious injury also pushes poor families deeper into poverty because of medical and other costs.
UNICEF seeks to reduce injuries among children and young people and prevent injury-related disabilities by supporting the Government in five key areas:
Public awareness and social mobilization: In order to raise public awareness and help prevent childhood injury, UNICEF works closely with mass media and the Government in developing a comprehensive communication plan that reaches the widest possible audience, including parents, decision makers, children and adolescents, and selected ethnic minority groups.
In areas severely affected by unexploded ordnance and landmines, specific activities on mine risk education are conducted.
Implementation of best practices: UNICEF supports the development and implementation of a Childhood Injury Prevention model in six provinces (72 communes). This model consists of behavior change communication, skills development and environment modification with the aim to build child safe homes, child safe schools and safe communities. This programme will also identify cost-effective child-safety devices and promote their enforced use in new safety legislation.
UNICEF also supports the Youth Union in providing summer activities for children and adolescents, addressing inadequate parental supervision. In some project areas, children also learn swimming and rescue skills – one of the most effective ways to prevent drowning.
Capacity building: UNICEF assists the Government at all levels in building its capacity to design, plan and implement activities related to preventing childhood injury.
Specific capacity-building activities include:
Research: UNICEF backs Government efforts to gather more data and information on different perspectives of childhood injury.
Advocacy for law and policy development: UNICEF strongly advocates for the inclusion of childhood injury prevention measures in major Government documents, such as the Socio-Economic Development Plan and important forums such as Donor Consultative Meetings.
UNICEF Viet Nam works on safety issues with the Ministry of Health as well as other line ministries, health and research institutions, and grassroots organizations like the Youth Union. In addition, UNICEF has built strong partnerships with the Provincial People’s Committees. UNICEF also collaborates closely with WHO, SIDA and several international NGOs to improve synergies in joint efforts to prevent child injury.