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April 8, 2024

Political Commitment at Subnational Level for Survival Swimming in Vietnam

As a province in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam, Quang Tri is among the country’s poorest provinces, with a large river system that annually suffers typhoons and heavy flooding. From 2015 through 2023, 120 children lost their lives to drowning. Statistical data from the Ministry of Health for the 2015 - 2017 period shows the average rate of child drowning in Quang Tri 14.2 percent, which is almost 1.5 times higher than the national rate. To address this particular issue, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) has partnered with Golden West Humanitarian Foundation (Swim for Life Program) and Quang Tri’s Department of Education and Training (DOET) to launch the survival swim program for children aged 6 - 15 in the three highest burden districts of Quang Tri.

Since 2022, the program has recruited and certified 81 local swim instructors and provided survival swim lessons to 1,418 children. Of these, 90 percent of children passed the program standards of swimming continuously for 25 meters and staying afloat or treading water for at least 90 seconds. The water safety curriculum, including natural disaster prevention and child survival approaches, was integrated into the secondary school program, which reaches 12,577 children. In 2023, the province allocated nearly US$90,000 from its allotted state budget and mobilized other resources for its drowning prevention program that included 15,965 children enrolled in survival swim and set up four swimming pools.

A survival swimming and water safety education class in Quang Tri Province

Government support has contributed to the program’s success. On March 25, 2024, the Provincial People's Committee of Quang Tri province issued Plan No.70/KH-UBND, which committed 88 billion VND (US$3.6 million) from the state budget and other social capital sources for the child drowning prevention between 2024 - 2030. Its overall goal is to reduce the child drowning prevalence by 20 percent. This includes 26 portable swimming pools and six permanent pools, which will be created to expand the swim program, certifying 85 physical teachers with survival swim teaching and teaching at least 70 percent of students aged 6 - 15 water safety education.

The sustainability of this program is only possible with significant local ownership, and we applaud the Provincial People's Committee’s commitment to save the lives of its children in Quang Tri by executing this swim program for 80,000 children aged 6 - 15 by 2030.