The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) at the Bloomberg School of Public Health has initiated one of the largest implementation research studies on drowning in low- and middle-income countries. The Saving of children's Lives from Drowning (SoLiD) in Bangladesh project aims to reduce the shocking number of childhood deaths due to drowning in the South Asian country. This two-year study will allow researchers from JH-IIRU to examine how many lives can be saved using a package of interventions for children under five years old.
Bangladesh is situated in a low-lying delta region with approximately 7% of its surface covered in water. The country has the highest density of rivers per area, and water can be found everywhere--in canals and lowlands, in ditches and ponds—significantly increasing the risk of drowning. National data suggests that drowning is responsible for between 19% and 26% of deaths in children 1-4 years of age.
As part of this project, JH-IIRU will work in collaboration with the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and the Center for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB) to test the effectiveness of two interventions to prevent and reduce the burden of childhood drowning in Bangladesh. The interventions, playpens and enrollment in community daycare centers ((sometimes referred to as “crèches” or “anchals”), will be implemented, along with family education and community awareness on drowning prevention. Playpens restrict child mobility and create a barrier between the child and the hazard. They are also an aid to adult supervision, which, in turn, also minimizes exposure to the risk of drowning. Similarly, attendance in crèches during the period when drowning injury is most likely to occur reduces the risk of drowning by both supervising the child and removing the child from the hazard.
Implementation has begun for both interventions; to-date, nearly 30,000 children have been enrolled in 2000 crèches and two types of playpens--plastic and wooden--have been designed and are being manufactured locally.