Drowning: A leading cause of death among children in Viet Nam
Hanoi, 23 May 2008 – Drowning is one of leading causes of mortality among children over the age of one in Viet Nam. According to the Ministry of Health, ten children die from drowning every day in the country, and records show that in 2005 and 2006 a total of 7,249 children died from this preventable cause. “Child drowning is increasing day by day. Yet, so far this issue has not been addressed sufficently,” said Mr. Phung Ngoc Hung, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.
A campaign to prevent child drowning was launched jointly today by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in response to the Month of Action for Children. With the aim of reducing child deaths from drowning, especially during the summer vacation, the launch of the campaign kicked off a wide range of communication activities to raise public awareness and mobilise efforts from different ministries, sectors, and communities to prevent child drowning.
Reasons for the increasing number of child deaths from drowning in Viet Nam include unsafe environments, limited awareness, inadequate adult supervision and a lack of swmimming skills. “Only a few seconds are enough for a young child to fall into a pond, water tank, well or river. Therefore, it is important to ensure that wells, water tanks, and drainage holes are covered, ponds not being used are filled in, and houses with young children that are near water are fenced off, ” said Ms. Isabelle Bardem, Chief of the Child Injury Prevention Programme of UNICEF Viet Nam. “Children need to be looked after by adults,” she added. Ms. Bardem also suggested Viet Nam promote a nationwide learn to swim programme for primary school children.
A cross-sectoral plan of action on drowning prevention is being developed by MOLISA, which seeks stronger committment and collaboration among line ministries and local administrations at all levels in child drowning prevention. The campaign is expected to contribute to the development and implementation of a cross sectoral plan of action for child drowning prevention.
“This launch of the Child Drowning Prevention Campaign has an important meaning, as it assures the committment of MOLISA towards child injury prevention in general, and child drowning prevention in particular. I, therefore, call for concerte joint efforts by line ministries, sectors, and communities in this campaign. I urge parents and childcare providers to pay more attention to the safety of children,” Vice Minister Hung urged.
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Dr. Nguyễn Trọng An, Deputy Director
Ms. Nguyễn Thị Thanh An