Bangladesh has pledged to reduce the under-5 mortality rate to 25 per thousand children by 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Apart from deaths caused by diseases, many children die due to drowning in Bangladesh which is very much preventable. It is important for Bangladesh to reduce child drowning deaths so that the country can keep a promise to reduce child mortality as targeted in the SDG. By raising awareness and taking collaborative actions, it is possible to save many lives from drowning. Simultaneously government and non-government initiatives, media need to play an effective role to prevent child drowning in Bangladesh.”
This came up from a consultation meeting held today, organized by media and communication focused organization SoMaSHTe with the support from Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI). Senior journalists from different national media houses participated in the meeting.
Based on drowning incidents published in the media, SoMaSHTe found that some 833 people died in 467 drowning incidents from January 2020 to January 2021. Of them 686 (82.35%) are children. Among the deceased, 281 were girl child. Most of the child victims went to nearby water bodies while they were unattended. The highest number of deaths occurs in August.
The meeting also discussed that the flow of the drowning related news in mass media is considerably low. There is no systematic national and local information system in place to collect drowning related information. Besides, the reports published or broadcasted in different media are mostly based on single incidents. There is a lack of in-depth media stories on this issue. If media houses run more in-depth stories, then the issue will reach to the policy actors, which can lead to the development and implementation of the national program on preventing drowning deaths.
With reference to a recent research paper Dr. Aminur Rahman, Deputy Executive Director, Center for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB) said, “if we can take care of our children especially at the first half of the day, we can prevent 70% of child drowning death. In this case community-based day care center is very much effective to prevent our children from drowning. Besides this day care center is also helpful for physical and mental stability of our children.”
The meeting recommended that the government should develop a nation wise strategy to prevent child drowning, learning from proven interventions targeting those most prone to risk. Committed, long-term investment based on learning from the proven intervention such as community based childcare center is essential. Government should also promote best practices for childcare centers with special focus on creative incentives for maintaining quality and effective care.