In Thailand, drowning is the number one cause of death among children under 15 years of age. In this age group, there were 10 923 drowning deaths between 2006 and 2015, most of which occurred in natural water settings.
Objective To encourage and urge the implementation of all child drowning prevention measures in a continual manner.
According to a gap analysis of the implementation of the Child Drowning Prevention Program, communities did not carry out the program continually; some undertook only one measure, not covering various risk factors, resulting in a not-much decline in the drowning rate. Thus, to resolve such problems, in 2015, the Department of Disease Control, MoPH, began using the ‘Merit Maker for Child Drowning Prevention’ strategy and designated the creation of Merit Makers as a key performance indicator of the Ministry. The strategy was expected to promote the implementation of all child prevention measures continually by multidisciplinary teams, through community participation and the use of local resources.
In 2015 to 2017, 2177 teams of Merit Makers were established in 74 of all 76 provinces across the country. The teams could manage to have safety measures in place in 10 344 risky water settings (fences or warning signs and water safety devices), set up drowning prevention programs in 7862 child development centers, organize monthly knowledge dissemination sessions on drowning prevention at 7913 health centers, generate 17 881 survival swimming instructors, train 3 91 587 children aged 6–14 years in survival swimming, train 1 74 236 community members or children on CPR, and organize 8343 sessions of public communications.
The Merit Maker approach is a process for promoting the implementation of drowning prevention program in a sustainable manner at the local level. That is because the communities are made aware of the problems and then implement the program.
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