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article image'Silent Death': Asian children drowning deaths skyrocket

By KJ Mullins     Dec 19, 2012 in World
Every 45 seconds a child in Asia drowns. It is the second leading cause of death for hundreds of thousands of Asian children regardless of water conditions.
When we hear of water killing children in under developed Asian nations we think of water borne diseases like diphtheria and cholera. We would be wrong, drowning is one of the leading cause of death in Asian nations and it's not just when the floods come.
In Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and two provinces in China 25 percent of the deaths of children between the ages of 1-17 is from drowning. One half of these drownings are children under the age of four.
UNICEF is calling for programs in these areas to educate about drowning prevention.
"For too long drowning has been a hidden killer," said the Director of UNICEF's Office of Research, Gordon Alexander in a report from Women of China.
"Over the past three decades countries have made strong, continuous progress on infectious disease reduction," he added. "However, no impact has been made on drowning deaths. As a result, drowning is emerging as a leading cause of death for children after infancy in the countries surveyed for this report. And yet drowning is off the political radar."
Most drowning in Asia are preventable. The majority of child drowning happen within 20 metres of the child's home. Unsupervised children wander off and fall into the water.
Many of these deaths go unreported by parents fearing financial repercussions. Medical intervention is not used as most of the children die too quickly to transport to facilities far from their community.
Many children in these regions do not know how to swim even though they live close to lakes and rivers. Parents often leave their children at home as they try to find belongings to survive.
There are affordable solutions to the problem such as early childhood education. Swimming lessons are another tool to decrease the number of drownings.
In Vietnam's An Giang and Dong Thap provinces swimming nets were used to teach youngsters how to swim. These nets were inexpensive and eliminated the need of costly swimming pools. Young children were also tended at emergency kindergartens allowing parents to seek work safely.
More about Drowning, Unicef, Asian children
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