'14,000 young lives are needlessly lost to drowning each year in Bangladesh'
Multi-stakeholder coordination is essential to reducing the number of deaths by drowning, said speakers at a dialogue in Barisal on Friday.
The dialogue, titled “Ending the Drowning Epidemic: Scaling Interventions across Barisal Division,” was organized by the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB).
Barisal Divisional Health Office Director Dr Md Mahbubur Rahman chaired the dialogue, while representatives of various NGOs, INGOs, and government agencies concerned were in attendance. Barisal Divisional Commissioner Ram Chandra Das was the chief guest.
Led by its Chairman Stuart Popham, a high level delegation from the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) who are visiting Bangladesh also attended the dialogue.
CIPRB organized the dialogue as part of its BHASA initiatives, which are being implemented to reduce the rate of drowning in Barisal. The BHASA initiatives are being implemented under the supervision of the Non-Communicable Disease Control Program of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), with support from RNLI.
Referring to a study conducted by CIPRB and George Institute Australia, CIRPB’s Dr Kamran ul Baset said 46 children die from drowning in Bangladesh every day, with 9 of the deaths taking place in Barisal.
Explaining four major drowning prevention initiatives that were tested during the pilot period of the study - “Anchal”, “Swim Safe”, “Water Safety Messages through School Awareness,” and “Community First Responder Training” – Dr Kamran said these initiated needed to be scaled up across Barisal to effectively reduce deaths by drowning in the region.
DGHS Non-Communicable Disease Control Program Manager and Assistant Director Dr Raihan-E-Zannat emphasized the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration in developing and implementing drowning prevention strategies, saying the DGHS alone cannot reduce deaths by drowning.
Mentioning that drowning is the leading cause of death for children for children under the age of 17 in Bangladesh, Stuart Popham said RNLI is keen to extend its support to coordinated drowning prevention initiatives.
“14,000 young lives are needlessly lost to drowning each year in Bangladesh,” he added.
CIPRB Executive Director Dr AKM Fazlur Rahman said: “CIRPB has provided technical support to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for developing the National Drowning Prevention Strategy and Action Plan, following a series of consultations under the leadership of DGHS. The plan is now in the process of receiving approval from MoHFW.”
Thanking the participants for attending the dialogue and asking for their support, he added: “CIRPB will work closely with all stakeholders to develop divisional strategies and district specific work plans, to prevent deaths by drowning.”
Barisal Divisional Commissioner Ram Chandra Das stressed the need for raising awareness on drowning, and suggested that social safety net programs be expanded.
Barisal Divisional Health Office Director Dr Md Mahbubur Rahman delivered the closing remarks.
“Through collective effort, we can definitely end drowning. Drowning is preventable,” he said.