“Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer”

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The World Health Organization (WHO) released its first ever “Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer” in Geneva on Tuesday, November 18, 2014. Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General launched the programme. The report says that,

  •  “Drowning is a serious and neglected public health threat claiming the lives of 372,000 people a year worldwide”,
  • “more than 90 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries”
  • “This death toll is almost two thirds that of malnutrition and well over half that of malaria – but unlike these public health challenges, there are no broad prevention efforts that target drowning”.

The Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) is a world leading injury prevention organization, contributed a lot in the report. Dr. Aminur Rahman, Director, IDRC-B was one of the Editorial Committee members and Prof. Dr. AKM Fazlur Rahman Executive Director, CIPRB was in the Advisory Committee of the report. The report highlights evidence showing a range of effective drowning prevention strategies, and makes a number of recommendations for concrete measures to be taken by national and local governments.

The Report highlights:

  • Every hour, every day, more than 40 people lose their lives to drowning
  • 372,000 people drown each year, with those under 5 years at greatest risk
  • Globally, over half of all drowning deaths are among those aged under 25 years
  • The highest rates for drowning are among children under five years of age
  • Males are two times more likely to drown than females
  • More than 90% of drowning occurs in low- and middle-income countries, with the highest rates in the African, South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.

The report describes drowning prevention projects in a number of low and middle-income countries, including those where rates of drowning are high, for example, in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. The report recommends that such efforts should be systematically implemented and monitored in order to identify best practices and bring those which are most successful to scale.

“Efforts to reduce child mortality have brought remarkable gains in recent decades, but they have also revealed otherwise hidden childhood killers,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Drowning is one. This is a needless loss of life. Action must be taken by national and local governments to put in place the simple preventive measures articulated by WHO.”

The report recommends that

  • All countries should implement proven drowning prevention strategies, tailored to their own circumstances and risk groups
  • All countries should take steps to improve data about drowning
  • All countries should aim to develop a national water safety plan
  • A global partnership for drowning prevention should be established

Link:      http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/143893/1/9789241564786_eng.pdf?ua=1

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