bloomberg3_Zakir Hossain Chowdhury  Barcro via Getty Images_bangladeshchildwater Zakir Hossain Chowdhury Barcro via Getty Images
English

Ending the Drowning Epidemic

Drowning kills more than 80,000 children globally each year and is one of the top ten causes of death for people under 25 in every region of the world. These deaths are especially unacceptable because they can be prevented with relatively simple measures.

NEW YORK – Each year, more than 80,000 children globally die from a danger that gets little public attention and is not taken seriously enough by governments: drowning. Over 2.5 million people worldwide have drowned over the past decade, and the World Health Organization reports that drowning is one of the top ten causes of death for people under 25 in every region of the world. These deaths are especially unacceptable because they can be prevented with relatively simple measures.

The problem is particularly severe in low- and middle-income countries, which account for roughly 90% of all drowning deaths. But even in the United States, some 850 children every year drown in swimming pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans. With the exception of birth defects, drowning is the leading cause of death among young children in the US.

Until now, the US, like many countries, has never treated this issue like the serious public-health challenge that it is. Thankfully, there are signs that this is beginning to change. A spending bill currently moving through the US Congress would allow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to distribute much-needed drowning-prevention funding to state public-health agencies. It is to be hoped that this legislation will pass.

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