New recommendations to prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who drown each year.

Aug 16, 2022 | Post, Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning.

Most drowning deaths, more than 90 per cent, occur in low- and middle-income countries, with children under five years of age most at risk. Almost all of them are preventable.

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More than 236,000 people die each year from drowning, which is a leading cause of death among people aged one to 24, and the third leading cause of injury death worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday, urging everyone to “do one thing” to save those lives.

Most deaths are preventable
These deaths are often related to everyday activities, such as bathing, collecting water for domestic use, travelling on boats or ferries and fishing. The impacts of monsoons and other seasonal or extreme weather events are also frequent causes.

“Every year, around the world, hundreds of thousands of people drown. Most of these deaths are preventable through low-cost, evidence-based solutions,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Focusing on solutions
The UN health agency works with partners such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator to raise awareness about drowning prevention.

Bloomberg Philanthropies founder, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, described drowning as a global public health challenge.

“In many cases, we know what works to prevent drowning. We have developed tools and guidance to help governments implement solutions, and if we do more together, we can actually save thousands of lives,” said Bloomberg, WHO’s a global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases and injuries.

The World Health Organisation has recommended six evidence-based measures to prevent drowning, including installing barriers to control access to water and training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation techniques.

School-age children should also be taught basic swimming and water safety skills, and supervised childcare should be provided for children.

Other measures call for the establishment and enforcement of safe boating practices, boat and ferry regulations, and improved flood risk management.

Sharing and support
As part of the call to “do one thing”, people are urged to share drowning prevention and water safety advice with their families, friends and colleagues. They are also encouraged to sign up for swimming or water safety lessons or to support local charities or organisations working on drowning prevention.

In the meantime, groups can do their part, for example by organising public events to share information on water safety or by launching water safety campaigns.

WHO also advocates action at the government level, such as developing or announcing new drowning prevention policies, laws or investments, and supporting drowning prevention programmes, whether at the national or international level.