Children learn swimming at Tang Bat Ho pool in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A conference took place in Hanoi on November 27 to review the outcomes of a nationwide programme on safe swimming and drowning prevention for children for 2016-2020.

A report presented at the function showed that all 63 provinces and cities nationwide have either set plans for or implemented the programme. In 2018, they increased their budgets and mobilised resources related to communications activities, building swimming pools, and teaching children to swim.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Le Khanh Hai said by 2020, the programme aims to reduce the number of child fatalities from drowning by 6 percent compared to the 2010-2015 period.

According to him, it has also set the target of helping 40 percent of children at primary and secondary schools learn water safety skills, and to ensure that 100 percent of sport facilities follow water safety regulations and have coaches and lifeguards by their pools.

He urged provincial- and municipal-level departments for culture, sports, and tourism to submit their plans on land and budget planning for implementing the programme in line with local conditions.

Other recommended works included building the capacity for swimming teachers and lifeguards, mobilising financial support from the public for the programme, and proposing policies that encourage business-school collaboration in teaching children how to swim and protect themselves in the water.

Drowning remains one of the leading causes of fatality among children and teenagers aged below 19 in Vietnam. About 2,000 Vietnamese children die annually due to drowning.

Though Vietnam boasts 3,260km of coastline and many rivers and lakes, swimming is only taught as an extra-curricular activity or at courses outside school. A survey by the Department of Child Care and Protection in 2017 found that only 35 percent of children in the Mekong Delta and 10 percent in the Red River Delta can actually swim.

Last year, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs and eight other ministries and state agencies signed an intersectoral plan for child drowning prevention while Vietnam’s child drowning prevention efforts have received great support from the public, as well as both local and international organisations. –VNA