Workshop to reduce child drowning in Asia concludes in Dhaka

Monday 6 December 2010, Dhaka: A workshop to explore strategies to reduce child drowning across the region has concluded, with resource mobilization, community involvement and a collaborative approach just some of the key elements identified as imperative to reducing the epidemic of child drowning.

Participants of the ‘Preventing child drowning in Asia: Key elements of a regional strategy’ workshop organized by the International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh here in Dhaka spent the third and final day of the workshop discussing and collaborating on suggested strategies for the region.

The international Drowning research Centre Bangladesh is a partnership between International Life Saving members; the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh, The Alliance for Safe Children and Royal Life Saving Society Australia.

The workshop was attended by over 35 people from Government, NGO’s and development agencies from Bangladesh and Asian countries with high rates of drowning.

The workshop, which is the first time ever that experts have gathered in Dhaka to discuss the issue of child drowning in Asia and developing countries, looked at the issue of child drowning over the last three days.

Issues discussed included drowning as the leading cause of death in children in Bangladesh and the region, a lack of awareness of the extent of the problem, supervision issues for young children, teaching older children water survival skills and the problems facing scaling up current interventions across the country.

Workshop participants were also shown that evidence currently emerging from Bangladesh shows effective, appropriate and sustainable interventions exist to control the horrific rate of child drowning.

It was also agreed amongst the range of participants that strong advocacy at a regional, national and community level is essential in institutionalizing child drowning as a public health issue.

The workshop included a field visit to Raiganj where CIPRB are currently implementing large scale child drowning interventions. Participants also viewed the recently opened International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh model centre, which provides a modern facility for ensuring child safety and enhancing early childhood development activities.

The International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh says that while evidence shows that these interventions are effective in reducing child drowning, more resources are needed to scale up the programs throughout the whole of the country.

Dr Aminur Rahman the Director of the International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh and ILS Research Committee member says the workshop has been very successful in developing a strategy to tackle the issue of child drowning in Bangladesh and the region.

“For the first time ever, we have a blueprint of ways to prevent drowning in children in our country and in other low and middle income countries. This is such a significant step in reducing the leading killer of children in the region,” he said.

“The dedicated group who were part of the workshop all passionately agreed that drowning can be prevented, and drowning prevention would need the involvement of all levels of the community, from the national policy makers, to researchers, to educators, to local government representatives, village committee members and parents. The workshop has been very inspiring, and we are very proud to have drafted the beginnings of the first ever strategy to combat this issue in Asia.”

The workshop was organized in conjunction with the International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh’s collaborating partners Royal Life Saving Society Australia, TASC and the Australian Government’s aid agency AusAID. The strategy developed will be presented at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention to be held in Vietnam in May 2011.

Danyel Walker
Communications and Media Officer (Australian Youth Ambassador)
International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh