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Mr. Dang Hoa Nam is the General Director of the Department of Children's Affairs under the Ministry of Labor, War-Invalids and Social Affairs and is one of the leading figures for child drowning prevention effort in Viet Nam. He has been overseeing the Department’s works in the field of child care and protection, including child rights, child trafficking, injury prevention, road safety, early childhood development and more since 2015. Additionally, he has been spearheading the program on child drowning prevention in Viet Nam since 2018.

1. From the lens of a manager and a leader in the field of children’s affairs, how would you evaluate the program on child drowning prevention?

The program “Supporting effective and sustainable intervention for child drowning prevention in Viet Nam” is implemented by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI). Being true to its name, the program has been successful in demonstrating that child drowning interventions are not only effective and sustainable in the priority areas, but also can be replicated in other localities and countries with natural and social conditions resembling those of Viet Nam.

It has been a significant support to the Government's program for child injury prevention by 2030, especially with regard to drowning, and helps ensure children’s survival rights and a safe living environment.

2. What catches your interest and inspires you in this program?

I am always delighted to attend train-the-trainer workshops because I see the expansion and sustainability potential of the program. And I'm even more excited when I arrive at intervention locations to witness children diligently participating in safe swimming classes. I see the dual benefit of safe swimming courses as I talk to the children because they will grow up with the knowledge and skills to protect their own children from drowning and make their community a safer place.

3. What are you most proud of in terms of the outcomes and achievements of the program?

The program's interventions on teaching safe swimming and water safety skills have assisted in reducing the number of children drowning nationwide, especially in project intervention areas. In those areas, drowning deaths among children have decreased from 14.23/100,000 in 2017 to 7.64/100,000 in 2022. This is an important result that is highly valued by our grantor and international organizations. According to the program evaluation conducted by the Ha Noi University of Public Health, 98 out of 100,000 children would have died from drowning from 2017 to 2022 in the intervention area without these interventions. With the program's intervention, this number has decreased to 67 per 100,000 children. Thus, it is estimated 31 child deaths are prevented each year. This result is strong evidence to measure project effectiveness and impact.

4. If you could, please share a lesson learned or a message to the leaders and policymakers in other countries in managing their programs.

The program costs 30 USD dollars per child to save children's lives from tragic and regrettable drowning incidents. I continue to advocate and share program lessons learned and cost models to save children’s lives so that policymakers and local authorities, and those responsible for planning and approving state budgets, will increase investment by installing swimming pools and organizing safe swim training for children in schools and in the community at large. This would in turn increase the rate of children able to swim to prevent drowning.

We must take more practical actions to save children's lives. It is becoming more necessary and urgent than ever before!

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