Guyana to craft National Drowning Prevention Plan

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A national programme is in the pipeline to spread awareness on preventative methods and actions to prevent drowning in Guyana.

Through the Health Ministry, the Chief Medical Officer has been instructed to prepare a National Drowning Prevention Plan for Guyana – an initiative that will also extend to community groups and Non-Governmental Organisations.

This revelation was made on Sunday, as Guyana joins in the celebration of the United Nations World Drowning Prevention Day.

“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…Recognising that drowning is a risk, the Ministry of Health this year embarks on a national programme to make people aware of prevention methods and actions to reduce and eliminate drowning in our country,” a statement said.

Among the list of measures to be undertaken are the installation of barriers to control access to water, providing safe places away from water such as crèches for pre-school children; teaching swimming and safe rescue skills; training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation; setting and enforcing safe boating and ferry regulations; and improving flood risk management.

As part prevention efforts, the National Commission on the Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases will start a television 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.”

Although most Guyanese and citizens across the globe rarely think about drowning prevention, more than 236,000 persons die annually due to drowning. This means that more than 650 people die each day from drowning, one every two minutes. It is also the third leading cause of unintentional injury death and accounts for seven per cent of all injury-related deaths in the world. The highest rate of drowning deaths occurs among children, one to four years old, followed by children five to nine years old.

The release added, “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. The time has come for countries to highlight this risk and ensure more aggressive actions prevent drowning.”