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Viet Nam hosts largest world conference on drowning prevention

Ha Noi, 11 May 2011 – The Government of Viet Nam is hosting an important conference on drowning prevention this week. With the participation of 450 delegates from 52 countries, this is the largest gathering to date of this conference, which is convened every two years. This is also the first time that the conference is being held in a middle-income country, where the burden of drowning is greatest.

Globally, WHO estimates that 388,000 people fatally drown each year and this is considered to be an underestimation.

In Viet Nam, the Ministry of Health reported that 6,153 people drowned in 2008, making it the second leading cause of injury and death after road traffic injuries. Of these deaths, 57 percent were children and adolescents aged 0-19 years.
"Behind these numbers there are many faces and each one tells a tragic story," said Ms Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam, in her opening address at the conference.

To highlight the importance of drowning and its prevention in Viet Nam, WHO and UNICEF have facilitated the development of a programme in the conference agenda where local issues and key findings from Viet Nam can be presented to international colleagues.

"Viet Nam has had a long focus and already achieved much in drowning prevention," said Dr Graham Harrison, WHO Representative in Viet Nam. "But there is still more that can be done, particularly in adapting and implementing the further good practice examples from other countries, many of which will be presented at this conference."

"Strong inter-sectoral coordination and clear guidance at national and local levels on preventing child drowning are of great importance to create a safe environment for our children to live and develop," said Mr Doan Mau Diep, Vice Minister of MOLISA.

The conference, organized in conjunction with the International Life Saving Federation, began in Da Nang on May 10 and runs through 13 May 2011.

For more information please contact:

World Health Organization (WHO)
63 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Tel : (84-4) 3 943 3734
Fax: (84-4) 3 943 3740
Mobile: (84) 0915 413814



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