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Five children drown per day in Cambodia: NGO

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The body of one of the victims drowned in Kampong Cham undergoes a traditional funeral ceremony. SUPPLIED

Five children drown per day in Cambodia: NGO

In observance of World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25, the NGO Helpcode Cambodia announced a programme of support to protect children from drowning accidents, which still sometimes occur in the provinces.

Helpcode Cambodia said in a press release on July 22 that World Drowning Prevention Day was declared on April 7 of this year at the UN General Assembly, which passed a resolution on “Global Drowning Prevention” with the July 25 date set aside to raise awareness of the issue.

It said the global advocacy event will serve as an opportunity to highlight the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and offer life-saving solutions to prevent such accidents from occurring, according to the press release.

An estimated 235,600 people drown every year, and drowning is among the 10 leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years. More than 90 per cent of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells, domestic water storage vessels and swimming pools in low-and middle-income countries, with children and adolescents in rural areas disproportionately affected.

“On average, five children die from drowning every day in Cambodia. In a living environment where water is everywhere, drowning is a real and ever present danger for the children of Cambodia,” the press release said.

Harry Lao, education manager at Helpcode Cambodia, said: “I have observed that drowning accidents, especially among Cambodian children, still occur in almost all provinces. Drowning is not an unavoidable problem, I encourage parents to get involved in understanding water safety to keep their families safe from drowning.

A recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) provides recommendations for action to save lives. The report showed that nearly two-thirds of global drowning deaths occurred in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2019, over 144,000 people drowned in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for 61 per cent of global drowning deaths, according to the first WHO regional assessments on drowning prevention released on July 22.

Helpcode Cambodia president Mary Mccabe said her organisation is working to protect the wellbeing of Cambodia’s most vulnerable children by implementing a water safety and drowning prevention programme, which started in 2018 in collaboration with the the Preah Sihanouk provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sports, enabling school principals to coordinate time for students in each grade to attend water safety and first aid training programmes to support the crucial need to prevent children from drowning.

“Helpcode is actively working with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to continue their mission to build on the current drowning prevention programme in the country and increase the programme’s geographical reach across the country to keep more Cambodian children and their families safe from drowning,” she said.

Ouch Sophea, director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial education department, said that along with Helpcode the department is prepared to spread the word and raise awareness concerning drowning accidents and put up some billboards in public and online.

“In the first seven months of this year, we have not had any drowning accidents involving children in Preah Sihanouk province. But in 2020 some cases of drowning occurred, including drowning at sea.

“We’ve observed that the reason many children drown is because some parents and guardians were inattentive, uninformed and careless,” she said.

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