The World Health Organization (WHO) stated on Monday that drowning is among the leading causes of death among people aged between 1-24 and the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths, claiming more than 236,000 lives each year.
On World Drowning Prevention Day, the WHO aimed to raise awareness about preventable drownings.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world drown. Most of these deaths are preventable through evidence-based, low-cost solutions,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.
He said cities worldwide are lighting up monuments in blue light as a call to action for everyone to do their part to prevent drowning.
More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with children under 5 at the highest risk.
These deaths are frequently linked to routine activities, such as bathing, collecting water for domestic use, traveling over water on boats or ferries, and fishing.
The impacts of seasonal or extreme weather events – including monsoons – are also a frequent cause of drowning that are largely preventable through several interventions.
WHO recommends various measures to prevent drowning, including installing barriers, controlling access to water and training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation.
Learning basic swimming
The WHO also urges teaching school-aged children basic swimming and water safety skills, providing supervised day care for children, setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations, and improving flood risk management.
WHO said 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 host public events to share water safety information, launch water safety campaigns or commit to developing or delivering new drowning prevention programs using recommended best practice interventions.
Governments can develop new drowning prevention policies, strategies, legislation or investment, convene roundtables or parliamentary discussions on drowning burden and solutions, and support drowning prevention programs domestically or internationally.
WHO cited the example of Bangladesh which has started a three-year program to reduce drowning among children throughout the country.