Drowning in the Delta: Preventing Childhood Drowning in Bangladesh

Millions of children in Bangladesh live in a world with no fence, no alarms, and a pond or ditch next to their house—and the leading cause of death among children 1-4 years old is drowning, as the video above, produced by Bloomberg Philanthropies, shows.

The video documents the scale of of the problem and interventions proposed by a drowning study in Bangladesh, a collaboration between the Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study involving 71,000 children evaluated drowning prevention interventions such as community daycare and playpens in Bangladesh, where 75% of all drowning deaths in Bangladesh occur less than 20 meters from the home. Attending daycare reduced drowning deaths by over 70%, the researchers discovered.

“While these are statistics and numbers to us, each one of these numbers is a story. This is incredibly important that these public health solutions are not just solving one disease, but rather we are improving the health and social welfare of populations that exist in those communities,” IIRU Director Adnan A. Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD says in the video.

But the problem is not unique to Bangladesh. Drowning is one of the world’s top 10 leading causes of death for children and young people—and people in low- and middle-income countries endure the greatest burden of the 360,000 drowning deaths every year. These deaths could be avoided—and today, the WHO, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the IIRU will announce a new 5-year drowning prevention effort with concrete steps for countries to take.

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