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Drowning Claims 1,360 Lives Annually; Child Mortality In Septic Tanks Highlighted By KNUST Study

Drowning Claims 1,360 Lives Annually; Child Mortality In Septic Tanks Highlighted By KNUST Study

A recent study conducted by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has shed light on the alarming statistics surrounding drowning incidents in Ghana. The research reveals that an estimated 1,360 individuals succumb to drowning annually in the country.

The comprehensive study aimed to ascertain the availability of data on drowning incidents within existing national and district-level sources across 52 districts. Spanning from January 2019 to December 31, 2021, the data collection process involved individual interviews conducted at the community household level.

Among the notable findings, it was observed that the average age of those who tragically lost their lives to drowning was 23 years, while survivors had an average age of 29 years. Notably, males were disproportionately affected, comprising nearly four times the number of fatalities compared to females.

Furthermore, the study highlighted specific demographics at higher risk, notably adults aged 20 to 34 and young children under the age of 5. Distressingly, children within the 0 to 4 age brackets were found to be most susceptible to incidents occurring in water-related environments such as septic tanks, pits, and wells. Conversely, older children and adolescents between 5 to 19 years old were more prone to drowning incidents in rivers.

An in-depth analysis, including an eight-member focus group discussion, underscored several contributing factors to these tragedies. These factors encompassed alcohol consumption, inadequate life jackets for use, limited swimming proficiency, and insufficient access to swimming training.

In response to these findings, participants advocated for targeted interventions to mitigate the risk of drowning in Ghana. Key recommendations included enhancing access to and utilisation of life jackets, bolstering boating regulations, and implementing infrastructure improvements such as the construction of bridges across water bodies.

Central to the study's conclusions was the imperative need for a cohesive national water safety strategy and action plan. Such a framework, encompassing elements of funding allocation, advocacy efforts, awareness campaigns, and robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, is deemed essential to curbing drowning incidents nationwide.

The research endeavour was made possible through funding provided by the CDC Foundation, facilitated by a generous grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Noteworthy contributors to the study from KNUST include esteemed Professors Peter Donkor, Easmon Otupiri, and Emmanuel Nakua. Their efforts were complemented by the invaluable support of Danielle Fernandez, Tessa Clemens, and Michael Ballesteros from the CDC.

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