CPR to be trialled in Bangladesh in the fight against child drowning

Despite it being widely recognized as a vital technique in the prevention of drowning in developed countries for over 50 years, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is now being trialled in rural Bangladesh as an effective measure against drowning. 

The International Drowning Research Centre – Bangladesh, which is part of CIPRB, is for the first time looking at the feasibility, scalability and effectiveness of teaching CPR and First Responder skills to rural people in a low income country context to reduce the number of drowning and other fatal injuries.   

CPR is the technique used once someone’s heart stops to keep blood flowing through the body and brain by doing compressions on the victim’s chest, and keeps oxygen in the blood stream by breathing oxygen into the victim’s mouth. 

IDRC-B says it expects more challenges in researching the effectiveness of CPR than those faced in high income countries as cultural, financial and educational issues are more prevalent. 

Drowning is the leading cause of death in Bangladeshi children under the age of 18. Every year, 18,000 children drown in largely preventable incidents.

Dr Aminur Rahman, who is the Director of the IDRC-B, says that given drowning is such a massive issue in this country, new interventions need to be trialled in Bangladesh to prevent such unnecessary deaths. He says there is also the potential to apply the interventions to other low-middle income countries with similar risk environments. 

A big issue in the Bangladesh context is the lack of emergency services and first responders in the rural areas. If a child or an adult becomes unconscious after falling into water, there is no service to provide them with medical treatment to potentially save their life.

With partners Royal Life Saving Society Australia, TASC and AusAID, IDRC-B will be testing the feasibility of teaching CPR to low literacy and illiterate people and the retention period of these skills, developing a First Response network and also testing the effectiveness of CPR on reducing drowning rates in rural Bangladesh.

As part of the study, 2,400 people across 20 villages in the Raigonj area will be trained in CPR and First Responder skills. This includes 1,800 adolescents and 600 key community members such as school teachers, religious leaders and government officials. The study is an ongoing project with results expected by 2012.

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