Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
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by Rebecca Wear Robinson on May 23, 2012

Measurable results. Sustainable results. Analysis. Cost-benefit analysis.

These aren’t just buzzwords. These are the criteria that all drowning prevention programs should be measured against.

I was thrilled to read the just-published ‘Child Drowning: Evidence for a newly recognized cause of child mortality in low and middle income countries in Asia.’ Full credit and congratulations to the UNICEF Office of Research, The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) and all the other authors and contributors for this seminal work.

Key recommendations from the report for drowning prevention and child health organizations include:
1)    Raise the issue of drowning in Asian LMICs, given that the number of child fatalities is significant and may affect achievement of the MDGs on child mortality
2)    Emphasize the linkages between drowning and injury prevention with early childhood development.
3)    Support drowning-prevention programme integration (survival swimming, for instance) with on-going public health programmes across sectors such as maternal and child health, education, disaster risk reduction, rural development, water and sanitation. All these sectors have existing infrastructure and capacity.
4)    Develop and initiate public awareness campaigns targeting children, caregivers and communities. Campaigns should take into account the two separate epidemics of child drowning: that which affects children under age four, which requires a focus on parents and other caregivers; and drowning among older children, which happens further from home in the community and require a focus on children themselves.
5)    Deaths only count when they are counted:
Use community-based methods in order to get an accurate count of drowning deaths.
Include drowning as an indicator in mortality and health surveys. There is a need for the inclusion of drowning indicators in programme management systems at national, regional and global levels.

For the full report, click here.

A report is only as good as the follow-through however. What can we in the drowning prevention field do to support this research and expand these outstanding programs?

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