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November 8, 2023

Vietnam Discusses National Program on Survival Swimming and Water Safety at Schools

Drowning is the silent killer that claims nearly two thousand Vietnamese children’s lives every year. Since 2018, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) has partnered with the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Tourism (MOSCT) and other stakeholders to develop and manage a child drowning prevention program. Survival swimming and water safety education together has proved to be effective preventive measures to save children from drowning. However, challenges remain. These include legal gaps, lack of facilities, lack of mechanisms for teaching survival swimming at schools, difficulties in maintaining school-based swimming facilities, lack of priority from the local authority and limited awareness of parents about the importance of interventions. Addressing these challenges requires building political will, backed by public awareness and support. A consultation with key stakeholders last month helped lead the way to greater public ownership of evidence-based interventions at the national and local levels—a huge boost to program sustainability.

On Oct. 31, 2023, the National Council on Education and Human Resources Development launched the first Consultation Conference on Child Drowning Prevention which was chaired by HE. Ngo Thi Minh, the Vice Minister of Education and Training. This consultation was a great opportunity for the high-level council members, relevant ministries and the Department of Education and Training (MOET) from 63 provinces and cities to share the current performance and to discuss the challenges and set priorities for their child drowning prevention initiatives, especially survival swimming. 

At the workshop, the program model and achievements were shared by Ms. Huyen Doan, GHAI Vietnam Country Director. She emphasized the critical need for uniform standards and guidelines on teaching survival swimming and instructions to secure the safety of students before, during and after training. In addition, she called for integrating water safety skills into official subjects and extracurricular classes at all levels, with priority given to elementary and middle school levels. After Ms. Huyen Doan’s presentation, HE. Ngo Thi Minh, the Vice Minister of Education and Training acknowledged the contributions of Bloomberg Philanthropies and GHAI to the child drowning prevention program over the last five years and requested that GHAI provide additional technical support to develop the Government program for school-based survival swim in the period of 2025- 2030.

Leaders of the Department of Physical Education and Training within the MOET proposed to take a lead and coordinate with MOLISA and MOSCT to develop a National Program on organizing survival swimming and water safety training for students at schools (period 2025 - 2030). All representatives in attendance expressed their full support for the submission of this school-based survival swim Government program to the Prime Minister for approval by 2024. MOSCT committed to working closely with MOET and MOLISA to develop survival swimming guidelines and instructions, as well as providing training for teachers. In conclusion, HE. Ngo Thi Minh requested to review the current legislative system, assess the swimming pool system, and build a mechanism for private sectors to participate in swimming pool management.