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At a glance: Viet Nam

‘Child-Safe Home’ model helps reduce child drowning in Viet Nam

© UNICEF Viet Nam/2008/Huong
Nguyen Thi Chung and her husband make baskets for a living and have recently modified their house to make it a safer place for their children.

By Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong

On 10 December , WHO and UNICEF will launch the first ever World Report on Child Injury Prevention, along with it’s child-friendly companion booklet which offers children tips on protecting themselves from injury.

DONG THAP PROVINCE, Viet Nam, 5 December 2008 – Ten children die every day from drowning in Viet Nam, where it is the number one cause of injury-related death among children over the age of one. In the province of Dong Thap alone, 202 children died from drowning during 2005 and 2006.

Nguyen Thi Chung and her family live in a simple house on the bank of a small river in Long Thanh Village, deep in the Mekong Delta. Chung and her husband earn a modest living making bamboo baskets, which they sell in the local market. They usually work in the front yard of their house so that they can keep an eye on their children playing near by.

Two years ago, Chung nearly lost her youngest daughter when she wandered out of the yard and fell into the river. She was rescued in time, but Chung has feared the river ever since.

'Child-Safe Home'

After the accident, Chung and her husband modified their house to make it a safer place for their children.

“We should have done that before. We were too busy with making baskets. We need to work hard if we are to earn enough to feed our children. But I do know that our thoughtlessness almost cost the life of my daughter,” said Chung.

Strong bamboo fences have been put up around the house to keep the children away from the river and the road – a new gate has been installed, holes in the garden have been filled up and water jars are covered. Knives, electric sockets, extension cords, medicine and the thermos have been moved to safer places to be out of the reach of children.

“Making our home a safe place for our children is not really a difficult thing to do and it is not expensive. It only needs a bit more thought and attention and our kids deserve all the attention,” said Chung’s husband.

The Child-Safe Home model, supported by UNICEF Viet Nam as part of the Childhood Injury Prevention programme, has been implemented in 72 communities in provinces with high rates of child injuries. Caregivers receive information in their own homes on how to avoid common injuries to their children in and around the home. They also get support and guidance on how to modify their home and the surrounding environment to make it safer for their children.

Families that meet the 17 requirements to help eliminate physical injury to children will be recognized as having a ‘child-safe home’. UNICEF also supports the ‘child-safe school’ and ‘child-safe community’ models, which further help to ensure safety for children in any environment.

“We appreciate UNICEF’s support in protecting children from injuries. The child-safe models have proven effective over the years,” said Huynh Thien Si from the provincial Health Service Department of Dong Thap. “They significantly reduce the number of children suffering from injury in general and from drowning in particular in the project areas. We plan to replicate the models throughout the whole province in the coming years.”

Protecting children from injury-related deaths

Injury is the leading cause of deaths among children over the age of one in Viet Nam. The root causes of child injury are multi-faceted, including the lack of awareness, knowledge and skills about injuries, poor infrastructure, unsafe environments and weak enforcement of safety laws and regulations.

UNICEF supports the Government of Viet Nam in its efforts to address the growing epidemic of preventable injuries since 2003.  The programme aims to reduce the incidence of injury and its impact on the health and well-being of Vietnamese children and adolescents.

“The heavy death toll caused by injuries jeopardizes the achievements that Viet Nam has achieved in improving child survival during the past decades,” said UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam Jesper Morch. “By supporting the Government to reduce the number of child injury related deaths, we want to protect those gains and help to ensure that all children can grow up and develop in a safe and secure environment.”



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