Drowning is the leading killer of children under 18 in Bangladesh. Almost 18,000 children drown in Bangladesh each year, roughly 50 per day. In response to this hidden epidemic International Life Saving Federation members, the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB), along with partners the Alliance for Safe Children and Royal Life Saving Society ” Australia have established the International Drowning Research Centre-Bangladesh (IDRC-B).
The International Drowning Research Centre – Bangladesh is thought to be the first of its kind and aims to combat the prevalence of drowning in children through research and strategies to build national capacity in drowning prevention. It will design and implement prevention programmes and safety promotion interventions in order to reduce drowning morbidity and mortality.
In launching the centre Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs spoke of the urgent need for more child drowning research in Bangladesh, and of her deep respect for the achievements of key members of the IDRC-B staff including Dr AKM Fazlur Rahman and Dr Aminur Rahman.
Another special guest Mr. Mohammad Ishaque Hossain Talukder, Honourable Member of Parliament, 64 Sirajganj-3, a region which has participated in a drowning prevention pilot study, spoke of the additional social and economic benefits of strategies such as survival swimming and establishing community crèche programs among his constituency.
The International Drowning Research Centre has been made possible by a significant contribution of the Australian Government via its International Development Assistance Program. The Australian High Commissioner, Dr Justin Lee was present at the launch and reinforced his commitment to working to assist the IDRC-B to achieve its objectives.
Other dignitaries at the inauguration included UNICEF and WHO country representatives, which is seen as a reflection of the growing recognition of the drowning issue in Bangladesh and of the importance of researching prevention strategies that have the potential to reach a national scale.
ILS Drowning Prevention Commissioner Mr Justin Scarr (RLSSA), along with Child Drowning Committee member Dr Michael Linnan (TASC) presented papers at the launch including an outline of the importance of the IDRC-B’s work to the regional and international drowning prevention community.
On the day following the inauguration, members of the IDCR-B facilitated the first of its planned drowning prevention workshops for an audience of 24 representatives of Bangladeshi health and development sectors. This workshop served as a review of the drowning prevention research agenda; which will focus on measuring the impact of strategies to reduce drowning in under fours, explore methods to expand the scale survival swimming interventions, and investigate the impact of community first responder systems.
It is expected that the IDRC-B will provide a vehicle for further research, as well as a venue for exchange among drowning prevention specialists across the region in coming years. The IDRC-B is expected to make a significant contribution to the ILS World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011.