The World Health Organization (WHO) released a global report on drowning on Monday, wherein it went on to list drowning as one of the ten leading causes of death. The report titled Global report on drowning: Preventing a leading killer’ says that 372,000 lives are lost to drowning accidents every year and calls for stringent steps to prevent drowning and scaling-up resources. It also outlines various actions which local communities and national policy makers can take to prevent loss of lives due to this reason.
The report was funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies. Its founder, Michael R. Bloomberg, ex-Mayor of New York City took up the issue very seriously.
“I believe that you can’t manage what you don’t measure – and there’s never been a comprehensive effort to measure drowning around the world until now. The more evidence we can gather, the better we’ll be able to tailor our prevention efforts – and the Global report on drowning is a big step in the right direction,” Bloomberg had said recently.
UN Deputy Spokesperson mentioned that more than 40 people lose their lives due to drowning every hour, making it one of the ten most leading causes of death among children and adults.
“It also draws attention to the need to make drowning prevention an integral part of a number of current debates, such as climate change which leads to increased flooding; mass migrations”, affirmed Haq.
The report also mentions that more than 90% of drowning cases take place in low and middle-income countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, African and Western Pacific regions. The actual number of deaths due to drowning, however, could be much higher say experts because not all deaths get reported. And also because the data released does not include drowning due to suicide, homicide, flood disasters or incidents such as ferry capsizes.
Not only is drowning preventable, the solutions for it are fairly simple and inexpensive. Some of the prevention strategies listed in the report include “ improved boating, shipping and ferry regulations,installing barriers to control access to water, providing safe places such as day care centers for children, teaching children basic swimming skills on a local community level or better flood risk management and comprehensive water safety policies.”
Dr Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Non communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention declared that almost all water “inside and around our homes” presents a drowning risk.
“Drowning occurs in bathtubs, buckets, ponds, rivers, ditches and pools, as people go about their daily lives. Losing hundreds of thousands of lives this way is unacceptable, given what we know about prevention,” Dr Krug said. As per the findings of this report, drowning has emerged as a deadlier killer than diseases like tuberculosis and measles for kids below the age of 15.