On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first global report on drowning. The report recorded some alarming figures regarding the matter – 372.000 youngsters and children die every year by drowning, the report suggests. And figures might be even higher since many high-income countries do not include in their official data drowning from suicide, crimes, floods or accidents such as boat capsizes.
The WHO’s report named “Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer” was funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies. Its founder, Michael R Bloomberg, former Mayor in the city of New York, showed real concern on the matter. Mr Bloomberg recently said:
“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.”
The Global Report shows that the most exposed group to drowning are children and teenagers. Drowning seems to be one of the 10 leading causes of death for this group’s members, since globally, over half of all drowning deaths are among those aged under 25 years, the WHO report reveals.
The highest rates for drowning are among children under 5 years of age, the report says. And males are 2 times more exposed to drowning than females.
Also, according to the report, drowning seems to be deadlier than measles or tuberculosis among children under the age of 15.
More than 90% of the worldwide drowning cases occur in low- and middle-income countries, with the highest rates in the Africa, followed by South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, has said:
“Efforts to reduce child mortality have brought remarkable gains in recent decades, but they have also revealed otherwise hidden childhood killers. 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.”
Some of the prevention strategies listed in the report include 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 communities level or better flood risk management and comprehensive water safety policies, on a national level.
Dr Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention stated 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 Etienne Krug said.
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