Drowning is a significant issue, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. It is among the top 10 leading causes of death of children aged between 5-14 years globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 236,000 drowning deaths worldwide each year. Out of these more than 60% occur in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific Region.
The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted a resolution on global drowning prevention, for the first time in the UN’s 75-year history. The resolution establishes drowning prevention as an important international issue recognized by all 193 Member States (countries) of the United Nations. It has set out a framework of actions that every country should take to prevent drowning.
A 2019 community-based survey conducted by Child in Need Institute (CINI) and George Institute reported nearly 3 drowning deaths among 1-9-year-old children each day. Drowning happens to be the second-largest cause of death due to injury in India, which accounts for nearly 62000 drowning deaths each year. Children under the age of 14 years are at the highest risk with 30% of all drowning deaths reported are of children.
To prevent unnecessary and avoidable deaths due to drowning CINI and George Institute called upon the policymakers for a national water safety plan.
Child In Need Institute-CINI has recently launched a Drowning Prevention Campaign through Child Parliament Initiative in Sundarbans. To celebrate the 1st ever of the World Drowning Prevention Day with the theme of “Creating Child-Friendly Communities” CINI took a Children’s Rights-based approach to promote a collaborative and inclusive decision-making process – enabling children to voice their feelings.
Dr Samir Chaudhuri, Founder Secretary, Child in Need Institute said, “CINI aims at creating Child-Friendly Community to respect, protect and protect children from all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence. As key rights-holders, children and women are encouraged to participate in making decisions that affect their lives.”
Sujoy Roy, Advocacy Manager, Child In Need Institute (CINI) said, “Half of all under-five deaths in 2019 occurred in just five countries, including Nigeria and India which accounted for almost one-third of all deaths. CINI is trying to end preventable deaths. Child Parliament revealed the sufferings and emotions of the children and propped up simple and innovative solutions to tackle the drowning problem. We have gathered their views and drafted the Child Declaration for ending the silent epidemic of drowning.”
Till date, 12 Child Parliaments have been organized in the Gosaba, Sagor, Namkhana, Kultoli, Canning, Minakhan, Hingalgaunj blocks of West Bengal in which around 800 children participated and shared their views.
“Our mission is to ensure that children and adolescents achieve their rights to health, nutrition, education, protection and participation by making duty bearers and communities respond to their well-being. Child parliament is one of our strong approaches to ensure child participation,” Dr Samir Chudhuri added.
In Sundarbans – a rural, forest region, children are exposed to high risk due to waterlogging. The Ganges delta (in which the Sundarbans is located), also experiences frequent flooding of major rivers due to heavy monsoon rain during April-September. The survey findings shed light on the burden among this population, as well as highlighting the need for more accurate and effective data collection on deaths.
“There is no central mechanism to capture drowning related data and there is a gross underreporting. Interventions for safe places for pre-school children with structured supervision has a huge potential in reducing injuries and improving child development,” said Dr Jagnoor Jagnoor, co-director, WHO Collaborating Centre on Injury Prevention and Trauma Care and Head, Injury, The George Institute, India.