For kids in Bangladesh’s Sirajganji district—and anywhere, really—it’s hard to resist cool water on a hot day. Yet a frolic in a pond or river too often turns tragic. Drowning is the leading cause of death among children in Bangladesh, causing 43 percent of deaths in children ages 1–4.
Each year, drowning claims the lives of 12,000 children in Bangladesh—the equivalent of 32 deaths every day. Globally, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death, with approximately 359,000 fatalities a year.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is taking steps to prevent needless drowning deaths among children, starting with a $10 million initiative in Bangladesh to address two major contributors to child drowning: lack of supervision and easy access to water.
The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) is leading the project, which will evaluate the effectiveness of community day care centers and locally manufactured playpens in reducing drowning deaths. The idea is to provide child supervision during parents’ working hours and restrict child mobility in a safe, affordable manner. The project also includes family and community education programs.
“It is imperative that we explore the feasibility of appropriate and cost-effective drowning prevention interventions for child survival,” said Adnan A. Hyder, MD, PhD ’98, MPH ’93, director of JH-IIRU.
Researchers plan to monitor 80,000 children between ages 1 and 4 over two years.
Hyder is also co-authoring a WHO global report supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies on effective drowning-prevention strategies.