The 2011 World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP 2011) opened in the central city of Da Nang on May 10 with the participation of Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce and her husband.

In her opening speech, Governor-General Bryce affirmed that people need to prevent the meaningless deaths of children, especially those caused by drowning.

Vietnam has implemented programmes to cope with the situation, she said.

The WCDP 2011 is being held to call upon people around the globe to join hands to prevent the alarming drowning situation in Asia .

Following the conference in Portugal in 2007, which touched upon the increasing rate of drowning in children among low and middle income countries, the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) organised WCDP 2011 to implement commitments on drowning prevention.

According to Dr. Steve Beerman, ILS President, drowning will be an obstacle for some low and middle income countries in achieving the fourth goal of the UN Millennium Development Goals, which requested a reduction in child mortality rates due to drowning by 2015.

Vietnam has set up a drowning prevention federation and located offices in 15 cities and provinces with a high rate of drownings.

The Australia Agency for International Development (AUSAID) and Australian embassy in Vietnam encouraged initiatives to raise awareness and promote cooperation as well as supporting a drowning prevention strategy through the SwimSafe programme in Da Nang city.

According to studies, drowning is one of the top four reasons for child fatalities in Asia .

It is estimated that 300,000 children die of drowning in the Asia Pacific region every year.

Worldwide, 96 percent of drownings happen in low and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa .

Drowning is also one of the main reasons for death among children between 1-4 years of age in high income countries such as Australia and the US , and in Europe .

The conference will last until May 13./.