The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a historic resolution on Global Drowning Prevention introduced by Bangladesh.
The UN also declared July 25 a new UN Day for drowning prevention to promote awareness and encourage national action, as well as to share best practices and key solutions to drowning.
Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Rabab Fatima, on April 28 introduced the resolution, which was co-led by Ireland and co-sponsored by 81 UN member states.
It recognises that drowning affects all countries and provides a framework for action for an effective response to the unacceptably high number of drowning deaths.
According to the WHO's latest estimates, drowning is the cause of 235,000 deaths each year. The number of deaths from drowning in Bangladesh is around 18000 every year. Many countries report drowning as a leading cause of childhood mortality, particularly in children under the age of five.
The resolution says drowning is a preventable cause of mortality that disproportionately affects children and adolescents within and among nations, says a statement.
Rabab Fatima said Bangladesh government recognises the urgency to have a resolution to generate greater political commitment to prevention of drowning.
"We have reduced child mortality rates globally, however, if we cannot bring death from drowning to 'zero', our success in primary healthcare, and therefore, achievement of SDG-3 will remain unaccomplished," she said.
In view of the fact that 90 percent of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with Asia carrying the highest burden, Bangladesh Ambassador observed, "Drowning is not just an injury, it is an inequity."
Since drowning incidents affect mostly poor families, drowning prevention could also contribute to achieving several other SDGs, including elimination of poverty (SDG-1), Ambassador Fatima remarked.
The resolution encourages the member states to appoint a national focal point for drowning prevention; develop national prevention plan and programmes; enact national laws; create awareness; support international cooperation and promote research and development.