The lives of thousands of children who drown in Bangladesh every year could be saved by encouraging people to put aside superstitions that view the deaths as “God’s will”, a study has found.
Drownings have become the leading cause of death in children under the age of 18, numbering around 18,000 a year since 2005, yet such deaths are preventable, according to researchers from the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh.
A £2.5m project, launched in 2016 by the CIPRB, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the George Institute for Global Health, in Sydney, is seeking to challenge these traditional ideas and inform the country’s first nationwide drowning-prevention strategy.
The first part of the four-year Bhasa project, which means “rise up” in Bengali, is a household survey of 400,000 people, aimed at providing a detailed picture of drowning deaths, to identify where the worst problems are and where the most effort is needed. The survey, which is backed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Fire and Civil Defence Service, is based in Barisal, an area by the Kirtankhola river in south-central Bangladesh that the CIPRB believes to be the worst place in the world for drownings of children aged between one and four.