July 24, Colombo: Every year about 800 Sri Lankans die due to drowning and it is the second cause for unintentional injury deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
Samitha Siritunga, Consultant Community Physician and National Programme Manager- Injury Prevention and Management of the Directorate of Non-Communicable Diseases of Ministry of Health said most of the drowning victims are belonged to the age group of 21-60 years which is the economically productive group.
In a message to mark the World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25, the health official said human behavior has been identified as a key risk factor for occurrence of drowning.
She said including a water safety culture within the country is crucial and, it is necessary to educate the public on water safety, establish barriers, improve swim skills, rescue and resuscitation training etc. Further, it is needed to identify new laws and regulations to improve the water safety in the country.
The United Nations General Assembly passed its first-ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention during the seventy-fifth session and announced 25th of July as the World Drowning Prevention Day.
Every Year an estimated number of more than 200,000 people die due to drowning around the world. About one-third of these victims are from South Asian countries.
Globally, the highest drowning mortality rates are among children aged 1-4 years and is often reported as the leading cause of mortality among children between 1-9 years.
Other than deaths, lack of oxygen to the brain after a non-fatal drowning can lead to long- term disabilities ranging from memory problems and learning disabilities to complete loss of basic function. Moreover, drowning is not only public health issue but also a socioeconomic development challenge.
The Health official noted that there has been a reduction of number of drowning cases reported to the hospitals as a result of restriction of public movements as part of the Covid 19 prevention strategy.
In the present experience, with the relaxation of the Covid 19 related regulations, the uncontrolled increase in human activity may also increase the risk of droning. Hence, with the current pandemic situation, the strategies to prevent Covid 19 can be challenged if individuals at particular risk for Covid 19 are unnecessarily caused injuries due to drowning, she cautioned.
“Therefore, it is vital to retain focused on the importance of preventing and protecting ourselves from injuries, including drowning, during this global pandemic,” Dr. Siritunga said.