Posted by: tommecrow | May 12, 2014

The prevalence of naturally acquired swimming ability among children in Bangladesh

The prevalence of naturally acquired swimming ability among children in Bangladesh

Unlike in high-income countries, most children in Bangladesh learn to swim without undertaking formal swimming lessons. They learn from their friends and family in open water, such as ponds and rivers. This is usually done while undertaking daily activities, such as bathing or washing clothes.

And yet, drowning is still the leading cause of childhood death in Bangladesh.

Why? Well, those children who are not lucky enough to learn swimming still have to bath, and still have to wash their clothes. Their risk of drowning while undertaking these activities is extremely high.

Recent research suggests that learning how to swim is the equivalent of receiving a vaccination against drowning (in fact, few vaccines achieve the same efficacy as learning how to swim).

Unlike most vaccination programmes, this study suggests that the leading cause of childhood death in Bangladesh could be immediately reduced by targeting a minority of children.

The ‘topping up’ of the prevalence of swimming in Bangladesh could and should be achieved as part of a national drowning prevention programme.


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