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Bangladesh Holds National Dialogue on Drowning Prevention

Each year, drowning kills more than 12,000 children under five in Bangladesh. Last month, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and grantee Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) hosted a national meeting in Dhaka to draw attention to this crisis and to encourage the government to make child drowning prevention a national priority.

The meeting brought together senior government officials, including the honorable Fazilatun Nessa Indira, State Minister for the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Dr. Aminur Rahman, Deputy Executive Director, Center for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB) and Divisional-Level local administration officials. The Honorable Fazilatun Nessa Indira shared that the government has identified child drowning as a serious concern and is prioritizing prevention.

Child drowning is largely preventable, but many people are unaware that this tragedy can be avoided by simple low-cost interventions. Most drowning deaths occur within 20 meters from home and 60% of accidents occur between 9 am to 1 pm when parents are busy with family responsibilities.

Over the last 10 years, Bloomberg Philanthropies has been supporting interventions in 2,595 community daycare centers in seven sub-districts in Bangladesh. These centers have been shown to be a cost-effective intervention that enhances cognitive development in children, improves status for women in their families and communities, and reduces drowning deaths by 88% among children under four years of age. GHAI has been working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bangladesh government to find sustainable support for these programs.

“Many government officials do not understand that drowning is preventable and have not prioritized awareness generation or funding to address this critical child health issue,” Vandana Shah, Program Director for GHAI’s Drowning Prevention program, said. “This national meeting is an important step towards the creation and funding of a national drowning prevention initiative which could help thousands of children live past their fifth birthdays and contribute to a brighter future for Bangladesh.”