The philanthropic arm of the Bloomberg news service has donated $2.4 million to fund the first two years of a five year program to prevent drowning deaths among children in Vietnam.
The program will hold swimming lessons for children in eight drowning-prone provinces, with particular focus on those below five years old.
It will also provide free swimming lessons to children aged between five and 16, and propagate information on preventing drowning accidents in the country. The donation by Bloomberg Philanthropies (BP) was announced at a seminar held in Hanoi on Tuesday, Nguoi Lao Dong reported.
Around 2,000 Vietnamese children die from drowning each year, Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs, told the seminar.
Ha said that despite a drop in the number of drowning fatalities in recent years, it was still alarming that 11 children drowned every two days.
To tackle this problem, the ministry has teamed up with BP, the World Health Organization, and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator to start a drowning prevention program, Ha said.
The BP donation will be used for drowning prevention activities in Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ninh Binh in northern Vietnam, Quang Binh, Thanh Hoa, Dak Lak in the central region, and the Mekong Delta’s Dong Thap and Soc Trang.
Vietnam has the most child drowning deaths in Southeast Asia, and drowning is the leading cause of death among its children, the seminar heard. The lack of facilties and personnel to teach children is made worse by a lack of knowledge and awareness among parents and other relatives, experts said at the seminar.
This leads to both adults and children going to rivers and streams unsupervised and without having the skills or experience to swim in such places, they said, noting that most of the drowning deaths occurred there.
On Sunday, June 24, two Vietnamese boys between 10 and 12 drowned in Thanh Hoa Province, and a day earlier, two girls aged two and four drowned in a lake in Hanoi.