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Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit

A World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Injuries, Violence and Accident Prevention

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Keyword: drowning

On May 2, 2017, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research (JH-IIRU) faculty, including Drs. Adnan Hyder, Qingfeng Li, and Kunle Alonge, attended a Bloomberg Philanthropies meeting on drowning prevention in New York City. The objectives of the meeting were to: highlight the global burden of drowning; review current evidence on drowning prevention interventions; identify priority drowning prevention gaps that need increased attention and discuss communications strategies to raise global awareness of drowning prevention.

At the meeting, Michael Bloomberg, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced a $25 million expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global drowning prevention program.

The first phase of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ drowning program was launched in 2012 and focused on two countries – Bangladesh and the Philippines. The Saving of Lives from Drowning (SoLiD) in Bangladesh project aimed to reduce the shocking number of childhood deaths due to drowning in the South Asian country. This study allowed researchers from JH-IIRU to examine how lives could be saved using a package of interventions, including playpens and community daycares, for children under five years of age. The program found that community-based daycares are very effective in preventing drowning in children under five. On May 2, Bloomberg Philanthropies released a video that documents the work conducted by Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit and local organizations to reduce drowning deaths in Bangladesh. JH-IIRU director, Dr. Adnan Hyder, is featured in the powerful video.

The second phase of the program will expand the use of daycares and support survival swimming in Vietnam. In addition, the program will continue to support community-based daycares in Bangladesh, and will pursue funding to incorporate daycare into national government programs. The program will also implement national drowning surveys in two countries in Sub Saharan Africa. Bloomberg Philanthropies will be working with several partners in this effort, including Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, for implementation and monitoring through 2022.

During the meeting, Drs. Adnan Hyder and Kunle Alonge presented current and new evidence on primary drowning prevention strategies, including daycares and barriers. In addition, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization released Preventing drowning: an implementation guide. The report provides a range of effective drowning prevention strategies and highlights ways to harness public awareness and engagement to strengthen drowning prevention interventions.

Read more about Bloomberg Philanthropies’ drowning prevention program here.

A community-based daycare in Bangladesh

Dr. Adnan Hyder, Dr. Kelly Henning and local collaborators visit a community-based daycare

On January 29-February 2, 2017, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) team members, including Adnan Hyder, director of JH-IIRU; Olakunle Alonge, assistant scientist; and Priyanka Agrawal, postdoctoral fellow, traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh as part of the Saving of Lives from Drowning (SoLiD) in Bangladesh project. 

SoLiD Presentation

JH-IIRU meets with CIPRB and icddr, b to discuss the SoLiD project

While in Dhaka, JH-IIRU participated in individual and joint meetings with the Centre for Injury Prevention & Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) and the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr, b). The purpose of the meetings was to discuss special issue papers, review data analysis, and discuss existing data sets. The teams also brainstormed on long-term sustainability of the SoLiD interventions and exchanged ideas for future collaboration in injury prevention work in Bangladesh. 

SoLiD Collaborators

JH-IIRU director, Adnan Hyder, with representatives from CIPRB and icddr, b

The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit will begin a new research project in rural Bangladesh this year that aims to study the acceptability of using wireless alarm systems in the prevention of drowning. Alain Labrique, assistant professor in the Department of International Health, and Dr. Adnan Hyder, director of the Unit, will lead the six-month project. Dr. Labrique received a Faculty Innovations Fund award from the Bloomberg School to support this research.

Unintentional injuries are the biggest killer of children ages 1-15 in Bangladesh and drowning presents the greatest risk. For children ages 1-4, drowning accounts for 20 percent of childhood mortality and causes 46 child deaths every day.

Water hazards like ponds and rivers surround many homes, so behavioral solutions such as playpens and swimming education have limited effect in the region. The Unit’s work, therefore, will center on studying a new solution – wireless alarm systems. Specifically, Dr. Labrique and Dr. Hyder will test the Safety Turtle from Terrapin Communications to evaluate its acceptability and functionality in rural Bangladesh. The Safety Turtle can be worn around a child’s wrist or ankle and will sound an alarm when immersed in water.

For decades, leaders have struggled to identify effective strategies to prevent drowning in rural, resource-poor settings. The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit is excited to examine whether this technology can offer a new solution to this persistent public health problem.

The study will be performed at the JiVitA research site in Bangladesh and will be maintained by co-investigators from the Johns Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition. For more information about this project, or to inquire about other work in drowning, please contact the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit.

Approximately half a million people die of drowning every year around the globe. More than 97 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. In Matlab, Bangladesh, for example, drowning is the most common cause of death for children aged 1 to 4. To help address this problem, a team of researchers led in part by Dr. Adnan Hyder, director of the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit, and David Bishai, senior technical advisor for the Unit, examined verbal autopsy data in Matlab, Bangladesh.

The recently released study, entitled "Childhood drowning and traditional rescue measures: case study from Matlab, Bangladesh," analyzed 10 years of data around drowning deaths in Matlab, including household characteristics, age, gender, time, and also rescue methods attempted. The study is one of the first to publish data on traditional rescue practices performed on drowning children in rural Bangladesh. The findings suggest that interventions should be designed using local information so that we can most effectively reduce childhood drowning. Additionally, community-based resuscitation techniques and emergency medical systems are needed to improve chances for recovery.

To read the full study, please visit this link. If you have any questions about our work in drowning research, please contact the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit.

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