In late 2008 a crowd of more than 900 rallied throughout the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh to raise awareness of the silent epidemic of child drowning and encourage safe water practices, such as lea
In late 2008 a crowd of more than 900 rallied throughout the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh to raise awareness of the silent epidemic of child drowning and encourage safe water practices, such as learning survival swimming skills, among the wider community.
More than one third of the rally participants included children who had graduated from the survival swimming programme run by the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB), through its child injury intervention programme (PRECISE).
Death from drowning claims the lives of more than 17,000 children each year, making it the lead killer of children in Bangladesh after infancy. The participants also included community leaders, teachers, swim instructors and CIPRB staff who assist with the urban based PRECISE programme. They rallied through Mirpur, a suburb of Dhaka, chanting “Swim for life and carrying placards that read, “Learn to swim to save our lives.
The Water Safety programme, which CIPRB launched in 2005 in response to research which revealed child drowning as the lead killer of children in Bangladesh after infancy, is the first swim programme of its kind ever to be implemented in a developing country. Children between the ages of four to ten years old are eligible to participate.
The lessons are taught in local village ponds using bamboo structures to replicate a swimming pool, complete with shallow and deep sections, an entry walkway and perimeter fence. The urban based swimming lessons are taught at the Mirpur public swimming pool.
The rally was held during Safety Week 2008, an annual event which is the brainchild of, and organized by, CIPRB. The week is held to raise awareness of the problem of death related injuries in Bangladesh and educate, through workshops and advocacy meetings, that injury and death through injury is preventable.
“Without the support and determination of the Bangladesh Swimming Federation, International Life Saving Federation, through the technical guidance of Royal Life Saving Society Australia, UNICEF Bangladesh and The Alliance for Safe Children, this rally would never have been established in the first place. Partnering with these key organizations made the Water Safety programme a reality, said Dr. AKM Fazlur Rahman, executive director of CIPRB.
Teaching children survival swimming skills provides life-long immunization against drowning and is key to overcoming the silent epidemic of child drowning. We look forward to an even bigger rally next year, said Dr. Rahman.