Located in the Central Region of Vietnam, Nghe An province has a dense network of rivers and many large streams, interwoven between mountain ranges. Flooding often occurs here, especially during the months of May to September, when children are out of school. This carries a very high risk of drowning, especially children in rural and remote areas. According to the Ministry of Health, from 2015 to 2017, the average rate of drowning in Nghe An was 11.5%, which was higher than the national rate of 9.6%. To tackle this issue, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) partnered with the Department of Child Affairs (DCA) within the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) to implement preventive measures and build as a model for other poor provinces to emulate.

A school of Nghe An after a flood

Since 2021, the program has deployed communication activities and organized safe swimming lessons and water safety skills trainings for children 6-15 years of age in three districts that have a high drowning burden, including Yen Thanh, Dien Chau and Quynh Luu. In order to raise awareness about drowning among parents and community members, DCA distributed 600 leaflets, broadcast key drowning awareness messages more than 1,000 times on local loudspeakers and trained 1,800 parents on preventive measures. Thanks to the program, nearly 1,500 school-aged children were trained in survival swimming and 2,500 children have been equipped with water safety skills.

Survival swimming class at Dien Chau district, Nghe An Province

In July 2023, with the technical support of GHAI and MOLISA/DCA, the People's Committee of Nghe An province issued the first-ever resolution adopting policies to support investment in swimming pools and organize swimming lessons for children in the Nghe An province (Resolution No. 09/2023/NQ-HĐND). Nghe An is expected to secure 178 mobile swimming pools in 2024 and another 103 in 2025 to enable children’s swimming lessons. The resolution prioritizes funding for swimming lessons for children in localities that have a high risk of drowning accidents, including places with ethnic minorities and mountainous areas.

Since 2018, GHAI and the World Health Organization have been implementing partners of a program funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to prevent child drowning in Vietnam under MOL’A's leadership. Nghe An’s new resolution demonstrates the province’s commitment to local ownership of the child drowning prevention program and will help to ensure the sustainability of the interventions after international funding ends.

In the next two years, GHAI will continue to support the Nghe An provincial Department of Labor, War-Invalids and Social Affairs to perfect the implementation of this program from planning to execution, monitoring and evaluation. Through this partnership, we aim to enroll more than 4,500 children in survival swim classes and educate thousands more about drowning risks and safety skills around water bodies.

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