The first UN World Drowning Prevention Day was observed in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world on Sunday, highlighting the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and drawing attention to life-saving solutions to prevent drowning.
At least 236,000 people drown every year, and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children and youths aged 1-24 years.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Ireland Prime Minister Taoiseach Micheál Martin led the passing of the UN Resolution on drowning.
As nations with large stretches of coastline, inland waterways and thousands of lakes and ponds Bangladesh and Ireland are intimately aware of the benefits, but also the risks, associated with water.
In a joint message, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Bangladesh Prime Minister said: “In each of our countries, drowning is one of the leading killers of young children. Globally children under five are at greatest risk of drowning.
“In 2016 alone, drowning killed an estimated 40 children a day in Bangladesh – more than a classroom full of children each day. In addition, many of our people rely on waterways and the sea for transportation and livelihoods, making them vulnerable to water-based deaths.”
In 2015, Bangladesh introduced mandatory swimming lessons for children due to the disproportionate number of child deaths resulting from drowning. The government has also committed to ending preventable child deaths by 2035 and will be introducing a national drowning prevention programme later this year.