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World Drowning Prevention Day Celebrations

Every year, an estimated 236,000 people drown, making drowning a major public health issue worldwide. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death globally for children and over half of the world’s drowning occurs in Western Pacific Region and South-East Asia Region. Many of these deaths are preventable through evidence-based, low-cost solutions, including installing barriers controlling water access, teaching basic swimming and water safety skills and providing supervised childcare for children under five.

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) supports governments in Bangladesh and Vietnam to test and implement proven drowning prevention interventions and works with local communities to create awareness and generate demand for services to achieve sustainable drowning prevention programs. GHAI and its partners recently celebrated World Drowning Prevention Day with activities that highlighted the issue.

Bangladesh

GHAI’s media campaign partner SoMaSHTe organized World Drowning Prevention Day celebration events in four districts – Sherpur, Matlab, Patuakhali and Sirajgon – in Bangladesh. Local government officials, police superintendents, civil society organizations, youth groups, press club leaders and district drowning prevention journalist networks attended the ceremonies at the Deputy Commissioners’ offices. The ceremony was followed by rallies traveling through the cities.

GHAI and the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) hosted a roundtable discussion on child drowning prevention to mark the second World Drowning Prevention Day. The event was moderated by CAMPE’s Executive Director, Rasheda K Choudhury, and featured remarks from MP Champion Aroma Dutta, Minister of Planning Mr. M. A. Mannan MP, Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique, Additional Secretary from Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Dr AEM Md. Mohiuddin Osmani, Additional Secretary from MoWCA and GHAI’s Vandana Shah. The panel discussed the achievements made by the approval of the DPP, recognizing the leadership of MoWCA and the Ministry of Planning. Participants from the injury prevention and education sectors discussed ways the Anchals will both foster early childhood development and prevent injuries, including drowning.

Vietnam

GHAI, along with partners Fermion and Tohe, unveiled an art exhibit in Hanoi, Vietnam, commemorating World Drowning Prevention Day on July 23. Thousands of handmade butterflies made up the main exhibit representing children, both beautiful and fragile and requiring attention and care. The butterflies also symbolize young lives lost from drowning in Vietnam and call on everyone to do their part to end childhood drowning. The opening event was attended by VIP guests including Madame Nguyen Thi Ha, Vice Minister of Ministry of Labour Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Nguyen Thi Mai Thoa, Vietnam National Assembly Committee, Kelly Larson, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Yolonda Richardson, Executive Vice President, GHAI, David Meddings and Dr. Socorro Escalante, the World Health Organization and included interactive games, musical entertainment, educational materials and a social media wall where guests could note one thing they would do to prevent drowning.

On July 25, GHAI’s Doan Thu Huyen and Anuradha Khanal, Kelly Larson of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) joined nine Ministries and 10 government agencies in a signing ceremony of an inter-ministerial plan that aims to reduce childhood drowning in Vietnam by20% in 2030. The plan is the first of its kind in Vietnam and symbolizes the high level of commitment to the issue throughout the entire government. Representatives from the Department of Child Affairs (DCA) within MOLISA led the discussion of the plan, which includes the digitization of a database system on death records, highlights collaboration between MOLISA and partner ministries.