The United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution on global drowning prevention.
Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death and injury which has claimed over 2.5 million lives in the past decade, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates.
The UN has also set aside July 25 as ‘World Drowning Prevention Day’ starting from this year “to raise awareness on the importance of drowning prevention and the need for urgent coordinated multi-sectoral action to improve water safety, with the aim of reducing preventable deaths”.
Ireland’s envoy and permanent representative to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason thanked the government of Bangladesh for being in the forefront in calling for the adoption of the resolution.
“This resolution, and the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25, are a moment to highlight the immediate need for strategic and significant international action to save lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths,” she said.
Director of public health at Bloomberg Philanthropies Kelly Henning said the resolution will highlight the under-recognised public health issue to the fore.
“With the adoption of the United Nations global drowning prevention resolution, we are encouraged that governments will increase their commitment to support urgently needed drowning prevention strategies,” he is quoted in a WHO statement.
The resolution’s proposal notes that “90 percent of deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, with Africa recording the world’s highest drowning rates and Asia carrying the highest burden of drowning deaths by number.”
Among other key points, the resolution calls member states to appoint a national focal points for drowning prevention; Develop a national drowning prevention plans; Enact and enforce water safety laws; Promote drowning prevention public awareness and behaviour-change campaigns and Introduction of water safety, swimming and first aid lessons as part of school curricula among others.
At the 2019 World Conference on Drowning Prevention held in Durban, South Africa delegates bemoaned lack of a UN resolution on drowning prevention. Malawi, a country endowed with lakes and rivers, is one of the countries affected by drowning as people travel or work on water while others live near water bodies.