Dhaka: Drowning has become the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five in Bangladesh and the country reports over 14,000 such fatalities every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef said in a joint statement.
In the statement, the two UN agencies called on the government, development partners, communities, and individuals to do their part to raise awareness and work to prevent the untimely deaths of thousands of children across Bangladesh, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It is heartbreaking that so many lives are lost each year in this country. We know that these deaths are preventable,” said Sheldon Yett, Unicef representative to Bangladesh.
“We urge individuals, communities, and the government to join us in raising awareness and doing all we can to ensure every child’s right to survive and thrive.”
In Bangladesh, where large areas of land remain submerged due to yearly floods, the absence of awareness and swimming skills can prove to be life-threatening. Children in rural areas who grow up near bodies of water are also exposed to the risk of drowning daily.
“Drowning is a significant public health concern and the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children in Bangladesh,” said WHO Representative to Bangladesh Bardan Jung Rana.
“By enhancing multisectoral collaboration, promoting strong leadership on drowning prevention, and implementing necessary actions, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning and achieve a safer, healthier future for all.”
Evidence shows that drowning is preventable through low-cost solutions.
Increased awareness among families and communities, providing safety and swimming skills for children and adolescents, ensuring childcare facilities for pre-school children, and national policies and investments for prevention can make a significant difference.