Children under five more at risk of drowning – WHO

The World Health Organisation has urged parents to do more to ensure water safety, warning that children under the age of five are at most risk of drowning.

The WHO disclosed this in a statement released on Monday in commemoration of World Drowning Prevention Day.

The world’s health body noted that drowning is one of the leading causes of death globally for children and young people between the ages of one to 24.

WHO also noted that drowning is the third leading cause of injury-related deaths overall, noting that it claims more than 236,000 lives each year.

WHO said, “This year, the theme of World Drowning Prevention Day invites the global community to “do one thing” to prevent drowning.

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“Examples of actions that can be taken are as follows: Individuals can share drowning prevention and water safety advice with their families, friends, and colleagues; sign up for swimming or water safety lessons, or support local drowning prevention charities and groups.

“Groups can also host public events to share water safety information, launch water safety campaigns, or commit to developing or delivering new drowning prevention programmes using recommended best practice interventions.

“Governments can develop or announce new drowning prevention policies, strategies, legislation or investment, convene multisectoral roundtables or parliamentary discussions on drowning burden and solutions, and introduce or commit to supporting drowning prevention programming domestically or internationally.”

WHO also said more than 90 per cent of deaths from drowning occur in low- and middle-income countries.

These deaths, WHO said, are from daily routine activities, like bathing, collecting water for domestic use, travelling over water on boats or ferries, and fishing.

Speaking, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said the deaths that occur from drowning are preventable through evidence-based, low-cost solutions.

To mitigate the tragedy, WHO recommends six evidence-based measures to prevent drowning which include installing 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.

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