With participants from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, the workshop explored strategies to reduce child drowning across the region.
Participants from public health, injury prevention, water safety, government policy and NGO backgrounds discussed a breadth of issues, including 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.
A field visit to rural Raigonj to view anchals (crèches) and SwimSafe pond venues, the current interventions implemented by the Center for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh, brought to life the realities of the drowning problem in a country such a Bangladesh. 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.
In laying the groundwork for a regional strategy on preventing child drowning, the need for advocacy at a national and regional level, resource mobilization, community involvement and a collaborative approach were just some of the key elements identified as imperative to reducing the epidemic.
The highly successful 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.