Washington, United States (CMC) — A new report says drowning is among the five leading causes of death among children aged 14 years and under in the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas.
According to the first “Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer”, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and presented by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), drowning takes the life of 372,000 people around the world every year and is one of the 10 leading causes of death among children and young people worldwide.
However, experts agree that drowning tends not to be addressed as a public health issue, PAHO said.
The report, therefore, calls for considerably stepped-up efforts and increased resources to prevent drowning, including several measures that national decision-making bodies and local communities should adopt to save the lives of many children and young people.
During the presentation of the report, PAHO Assistant Director Francisco Becerra underscored the importance of finding resources to investigate best practices in the region aimed at preventing deaths and injuries from drowning.
“We need to address the deaths by drowning that occur every day, particularly among children. The lessons learned in different interventions to prevent deaths and injuries from drowning are very important in order to address this problem effectively.”
Becerra said local communities can adopt strategies that include installing barriers to restrict access to bodies of water; close supervision of infants and children under five; teaching children basic swimming skills; and training possible bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation.
He said interventions at the national level may include stricter recreational boating, commercial shipping, and passenger ferry regulations; better flood risk management; and comprehensive water safety policies.
The report was launched with the joint participation of WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies, which financed the report.
WHO’s Department of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disabilities, Violence, and Injury Prevention, David Meddings, pointed out that the subject of drowning is not frequently addressed and that prevention is feasible.
“We must keep in mind that about 100 people will die from this cause in the next two hours, and most of the victims are young people in low- and middle-income countries,” he said.