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Wireless Public Health Technologies to Prevent Drowning

Gaibandha, Bangladesh


Unintentional injury is the biggest killer of children aged 1-15 years in Bangladesh, with the greatest mortality risk attributed to drowning. This is not surprising, given the riverine nature of this tropical, monsoon-prone country. For children aged 1-4 years, drowning accounts for 20% of childhood mortality in the country, causing 46 child deaths each day. Few effective interventions are available to significantly impact on this burden of preventable mortality, especially for toddlers, who are at greatest risk of death. Behavioral interventions such as playpens or swimming education have limited efficacy in these settings, as water hazards such as ponds or rivers can be found proximate to most homes in rural Bangladesh. Recent technologies, such as wireless alarm systems, developed for poolside use in developed-country settings may provide a novel, effective intervention strategy that is applicable in rural, resource-poor settings such as in villages of Bangladesh. The western commercial “single family” model might be adapted to suit the village/community context of rural South Asian populations. We proposed to pilot test one such technology, the Safety Turtle, within an existing research infrastructure in Northern Bangladesh to evaluate its acceptability, operational robustness, and functionality. This study builds on the positive results of a small-scale acceptability focus group which was conducted in 2010, and would provide the necessary preliminary data for a larger proposal to conduct an RCT to measure efficacy of such technology in preventing drowning in young children.


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