Monday, 5 December, 2022

Do One Thing – to prevent drowning

Echoing the global call, in Bangladesh the World Drowning Prevention Day is going to be observed on 25th of July with the theme “Do One Thing – to prevent Drowning”. WHO has set the echo pursuing multiple actors to stay active and put the best collective efforts to accelerate the ongoing initiatives to tackle drowning, which has been termed as the “silent epidemic” in the UNGA resolution on global drowning prevention adopted for the first time in UN’s 75-year history. Drowning though preventable through human intervention but disproportionately affects children and adolescents across communities from rural to urban areas, which requires mass awareness among the parents and communities. The UNGA resolution has proclaimed 25th July as the World Drowning Prevention Day to promote awareness and encourage national action, as well as share the best practices and tested interventions for drowning prevention.

Globally, drowning is a significant cause of mortality and is the second leading cause of injury-related death among children and also the third leading cause of accidental death. In 2019 only, the World Health Organisation estimated that 236,000 people drown annually, which is equivalent to almost 650 death from drowning every day and 27 death every hour. It is an issue that transcends borders, affecting every country but the impact of drowning is felt unequally. More than 90 per cent of drowning death occur in low- and middle-income countries while the highest rates are recorded in Western Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa regions. Drowning is also prevalent in delta-like other parts of the world. Every individual of all ages is directly or indirectly affected where children under 5 and people above 60 have been found as the most affected section of the population.

Bangladesh Health and Injury Survey 2016 evidenced that everyday 30 under five children drown. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics shows that in rural areas, the death of under-five children caused by drowning is higher, 9.7 per cent, compared with that in urban areas, 7 per cent, which is just below the rate of death of children of the same age group caused by pneumonia. Royal Life Saving Society in its recent report mentioned that about 110,000 people died by drowning in Commonwealth countries — and India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan account for 78 per cent of the estimated fatalities where Bangladesh stands in the fifth position among the Commonwealth countries.

Human civilisation has been facing a severe and acute public health emergency due to COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years, which has exposed critical challenges for achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) globally. Though the global policy attention and individual state's response to COVID-19 are of utmost importance and critical in influencing the trajectory of national epidemics, as it engages human attention, it might take a longer time to reverse the situation to normalcy. However, the deadly facts of drowning coming out through multiple studies at state, regional and global levels accentuate to be proactive, devise and implement drowning prevention strategies applicable to each country's needs and prevent any further loss of life. Adoption of the UNGA resolution creating opportunity to observe World Drowning Prevention Day will remind the policy actors creating a vibration among multisector stakeholder agencies and communities to stay vigilant to prevent drowning epidemic.

Humans cannot survive without water. We, therefore, have to have a clear understanding of the danger around water and related limitations. Given the riverine characteristics of the greatest delta, we, as inhabitants, need to maintain a careful balance of focusing on drowning while reinforcing benefits of recreational activities in and around water. But neither any particular government agency nor an individual organisation can alone act to ensure a full protection and build awareness among communities to reduce the rate of drowning. Thus observance of World Drowning Prevention Day 2022 has been designed be WHO calling upon the individuals, groups and Governments together to come forward contributing in the process to enhancing awareness and taking actions to prevent drowning.


Sadrul Hasan Mazumder, Convener, National

Alliance for Drowning Prevention (NADP)