‘Let us strive to end deaths by drowning’- Health Minister
(Message by Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony on the occasion of World Drowning Prevention Day)
On April 28, 2021, the UN declared Sunday, July 25, as World Drowning Prevention Day.
On July 25, Guyana joins countries around the world to observe the first World Drowning Prevention Day. Although most Guyanese and citizens across the globe rarely think about drowning prevention, more than 236,000 persons die annually because of drowning.
This means that more than 650 people die each day from drowning, one every two minutes. Indeed, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death and accounts for 7% of all injury-related deaths in the world.
The highest rate of drowning deaths occurs among children, 1 to 4 years old, followed by children 5 to 9 years old. Yet drowning is an almost completely neglected health risk.
Drowning is a preventable cause of death, yet too many people die each year from drowning, including Guyanese. As we observe the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25th, we request that people turn on a blue light, on Sunday evening to signal our commitment to stop drowning in Guyana.
The time has come for countries to highlight this risk and ensure more aggressive actions prevent drowning.
Recognising that drowning is a risk, the Ministry of Health this year embarked on a national programme to make people aware of prevention methods and actions to reduce and eliminate drowning in our country.
Drowning is preventable and, therefore, is a worthy area of focus. Our goal is that the subsequent potential drowning death must not occur in Guyana. The Chief Medical Officer has been instructed to prepare a National Drowning Prevention Plan for Guyana.
Among the drowning prevention initiatives that the MOH, in partnership with community groups and NGOs, will pursue are the following:
- installing barriers controlling access to water
- providing safe places away from water such as crèches for pre-school children with capable childcare
- teaching swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills
- training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation
- setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations improving flood risk management
As part of our prevention effort, the National Commission on the Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases will begin a TV and Social Media campaign to highlight the danger of drowning and raise awareness of water risks. In particular, efforts will be made to provide teachers with information to make water safety education a part of the curriculum in Guyana.
The MOH urges all citizens to be careful when around large bodies of water, such as ponds, drains, canals, rivers and the seashore. Water, required for life, can also be deadly. Let us strive to end deaths by drowning. We can do this now rather than later.