WHO: More than 236,000 die of drowning world-wide yearly

WHO: More than 236,000 die of drowning world-wide yearly

On the occasion of World Drowning Prevention Day, observed every July 25, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended measures to prevent drowning, which it noted “tragically claims more than 236,000 lives each year.”

Globally, according to the WHO, drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children and young people ages 1 to 24, and the third leading cause of injury-related deaths, with more than 90 per cent of fatalities occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

The global health body in a statement published July 25, 2022, noted that drowning deaths are frequently linked to daily, routine activities, such as bathing, collecting water for domestic use, travelling over water on boats or ferries, and fishing.

It added that the impacts of seasonal or extreme weather events are also a frequent cause of drowning, noting that it is preventable through several interventions.

“Every year, around the world, hundreds of thousands of people drown. Most of these deaths are preventable through evidence-based, low-cost solutions,” said WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, in his remarks.

“Today, cities around the world are lighting up their monuments in blue light as a call to action for each of us to do our part to prevent drowning. Let’s put a stop to drowning,” he added.

The UN’s health agency also revealed that it works with partners including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator as well as other UN agencies to raise awareness on drowning prevention.

As the WHO and its partners plan to host a global virtual webinar event on July 27, to mark the 2022 World Drowning Prevention Day, it recommended six evidence-based measures to prevent drowning and actions to guide individuals, groups and governments.

The WHO recommended the installation of barriers controlling access to water; training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation; teaching school-aged children basic swimming and water safety skills; providing supervised daycare for children; setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations; and improving flood risk management.

In his comments, the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Michael Bloomberg, emphasised the need for governments to implement the guidelines and recommendations by WHO to prevent drowning.

He said: “In many cases, we know what works to prevent drowning. We’ve developed tools and guidance to help governments implement solutions – and if we do more together, we really can save thousands of lives.”

According to the WHO, the theme of the 2022 World Drowning Prevention Day invites the global community to “do one thing” to prevent drowning by taking action.

It urged individuals to share drowning prevention and water safety advice with their families, friends and colleagues, sign up for swimming or water safety lessons, or to support local charities or organisations working on drowning prevention.

Also, groups were advised to host public events to share water safety information or launch water safety campaigns, while the governments can develop new drowning prevention policies, legislation or investment, and support drowning prevention programmes domestically or internationally.

The WHO further stated that many countries in the world have committed to drowning prevention programmes.

It said Bangladesh is among the countries that have started a three-year scheme to reduce drowning among children.

“As part of the programme, the government will take over the 2,500 daycares established and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies since 2012 and will expand the programme by adding 5,500 daycares to provide supervision to 200,000 children ages 1 to 5 years,” it added.

Other countries that have received support for drowning prevention initiatives include Vietnam, Uganda and Ghana, the organisation added.

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