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Study: Bangladesh’s drowning death rate 5th highest among Commonwealth countries

  • Published at 05:22 pm July 13th, 2020
Representational photo Bigstock

India, Bangladesh and Pakistan account for 78% of estimated drowning fatalities within the Commonwealth

A study on drowning has found that Bangladesh had the fifth highest death rate due to drowning among 54 Commonwealth countries in 2017.

The study, named ‘Global Burden of Disease Study 2017,’ by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Seattle, USA, was published on Monday.

Bangladesh had 14,029 estimated fatal drownings in 2017, according to the report.

Although India’s 60,199 estimated fatal drownings seems large in comparison, the country had a much lower drowning rate of 4.36%, compared to Bangladesh’s 8.94%, due to its large population.

Neighbouring Pakistan’s drowning rate of 6.09% was 14th highest among Commonwealth countries, with 13,046 estimated fatal drownings.

According to the study, the estimated number of total drowning deaths in Commonwealth countries in 2017 was 110,594, 51% of which were children under the age of 19, and 26% of which were children under the age of 5.

It also stated that India, Bangladesh and Pakistan account for 78% of estimated drowning fatalities within the Commonwealth.

The report said that apart from hills to the south-east, most of Bangladesh is a flat alluvial plain crossed by navigable waterways – the Ganges (Padma), Brahmaputra (Jamuna) and Meghna river systems – flowing into the Bay of Bengal. Approximately 14% of the country is normally under water. Flooding is frequent and can be disastrous.

February 2020 saw the completion of an illuminating report, the first of its kind, to provide a detailed analysis on the issue of fatal drowning across the Commonwealth, with additional information on both strategic and practical, achievable preventative measures.

Published in July, the report, led by Dr Aminur Rahman, the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) Drowning Prevention Director, based with the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB), the RLSS Member in Bangladesh, gives an evidence-based estimate of fatal drownings in Commonwealth nations. This data provides a better understanding of the mortality burden in Commonwealth countries, ultimately leading to more effective prevention actions.

“More than 300 people die from drowning each day across the Commonwealth, with low and middle-income (LMIC) countries the most vulnerable. Drowning is preventable even in these LMICs. Now is the time for action of the Commonwealth nations to prevent these unnecessary deaths” highlights the report lead, Dr Aminur Rahman.

“We call upon government agencies and ministries to provide necessary support in implementing the preventable measures outlined in the report to reduce the loss of life to drowning”- CIPRB Executive Director, Professor AKM Fazlur Rahman emphasized.

RLSS Commonwealth President, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, expressed his concern and added his voice to the call for action: “Understandably, people’s attention is very much focused on the terrible worldwide effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sadly, this does not mean that other avoidable deaths are not occurring throughout the world.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites drowning as a “major public health problem.”

The study also mentioned that at national or community level, drowning can be prevented through implementing six selected interventions and four “cross-cutting” implementation strategies including installing barriers controlling access to water, and providing safe places (for example a day-care centre) away from water for preschool children.

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