UN General Assembly Passes First Ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention

The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution on drowning prevention.
July 25, 2021 | 16:09
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UN General Assembly Passes First Ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention
For the first time in its 75 year history, the United Nations adopted a resolution on drowning prevention and declared July 25 as World Drowning Prevention Day.

The United Nations General Assembly on April 28 passed its first ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention and designated July 25 every year as World Drowning Prevention Day with the consensus of 79 countries.

The resolution not only highlights the enormous impact of drowning on the safety and lives of people, but also has a great impact on the sustainable development of each country.

Therefore, the resolution proposes that all member states, relevant organizations of the UN and other global, regional and sub-regional organizations, as well as other stakeholders, participate in The World Drowning Prevention Day, which will help increase water safety awareness and highlight the issue.

“Through this new UN General Assembly resolution, Member States are giving drowning its due recognition, commensurate with the impact it has on families and communities around the world,” notes Dr Etienne Krug, director of the WHO Department of Social Determinants of Health. “Given that children and adolescents in rural areas are disproportionately affected by drowning, preventing this public health scourge is one step towards building a fairer, healthier world.”

The resolution encourages all UN Members to designate a national focal point for drowning prevention; develop a national plan with measurable targets; develop drowning prevention programming in line with WHO recommended interventions; include drowning within civil registration and vital statistics registers; and promote drowning prevention public awareness and behaviour change campaigns.

The resolution also invites all Member States and their partners to observe the Day annually in accordance with national priorities, through education, knowledge sharing and other activities, in order to raise awareness of the importance of drowning prevention and the need for urgent coordinated multi-sectoral action to improve water safety, with the aim of reducing preventable deaths.

The new UN General Assembly resolution invited WHO to coordinate actions on drowning prevention within the UN system. In this capacity, WHO leads preparations for World Drowning Prevention Day by producing related advocacy materials, hosting a global launch event and supporting national and local activities in countries and communities around the world.

The UN Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention debuted at an event co-chaired by the permanent missions of Vietnam and Fiji at the UN headquarters in New York in 2018.

Attending were Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, then head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the UN, along with many representatives from delegations from countries and organizations including Thailand, Ireland, Bangladesh, Timor Leste, Monaco, Boomberg Philanthropies, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

With the support of the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the UN Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention was founded by the permanent missions of Vietnam, Fiji, Bangladesh, Ireland, Tanzania and Thailand to the UN with a view to improving public awareness of and promoting support for drowning prevention.

The debut of the UN Group coincides with the World Water Day (March 22) and the UN’s launch of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development.

Addressing the event, Nga stressed that it was time for countries to be united to prevent drowning. She called on UN member states, UN agencies, and relevant organisations to join efforts to minimise drowning in the world, thereby helping to attain the goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and leave no one behind.

With the support of the Bloomberg Philanthropies and Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the UN Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention was founded by the permanent missions of Vietnam, Fiji, Bangladesh, Ireland, Tanzania and Thailand to the UN embarked on research and implementation since 2017, with a view to improving public awareness of and promoting support for drowning prevention.

The debut of the UN Group coincided with World Water Day (March 22) and the UN’s launch of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, which was very meaningful, contributing to the commitment of countries in solving the urgent problem of safe water access.

President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations Nguyen Phuong Nga said: "Drowning prevention is not only an effort to overcome 'a hidden epidemic' but also a practical action to protect lives, support people in disadvantaged groups, especially the poor in developing countries, especially children. The above action is aimed at realizing the sustainable development goals in the spirit of “leaving no one behind.”

In Vietnam, drowning is currently the leading cause of death among children under 15. The country also has a very high drowning rate in the region and in the world. Every year, approximately 2,000 children drown every year in Vietnam. According to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, on average 6-7 children die from drowning every day.

A programme was approved on July 19 by Prime Minister on the prevention of injuries and accidents among children for the 2021-2030 period. The goal is to reduce the number of children dying of drowning by 20% by 2030.

With the support of international organizations, many swimming classes and survival skills in the water environment have been held in many localities in recent months.

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