Better vigilance needed to prevent more cases of drowning

Perak Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital Paediatric Depart­ment head Datuk Dr Amar Singh
has expressed his concern over the death of 31 31 young children, aged between two and nine in swimming pools and theme parks nationwide.

These incidents add to the cases of death by drowning where 700 people, including 500 children and teenagers, die every year mostly at sea, rivers and ponds.

“What was thought to be a safe environment has created a new issue where the deaths of the 31 children could have been prevented by better vigilance and adequate safety measures,” he added.

He said 75% of children who died in swimming pools and theme parks were below the age of five.

Dr Amar, who is in charge of The National Childhood Drowning Registry under the Health Ministry, said the registry would serve as a guide to study the mechanism of drowning, the causes and how to prevent them.

“The registry, which came into effect in January this year, already recorded 211 deaths until September.

“We have agencies including the Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and police who handle drowning cases and all these figures are not coordinated as there’s no such database yet,” he added.

PMC Family Medicine Department head Dr R. Krishnan said statistics showed that the high number of cases was due to family and friends taking impulsive action by jumping into the waters to save the victims.

“They need to throw something such as a rubber tube that the person could hold on to and climb to safety.

“It is interesting to note that most people who die of drowning are those who know how to swim and are willing to take the risk,” he said.

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