The event to debut the UN Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention on March 22 (Photo: VNA)

New York (VNA) – The UN Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention made debut at an event co-chaired by the permanent missions of Vietnam and Fiji at the UN headquarters in New York on March 22.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the UN, stressed that drowning claims 360,000 lives a year across the globe, higher than malnutrition or maternal mortality. However, this topic has never been discussed at the UN.

The World Health Organisation recently described drowning as a “silent epidemic”. Statistics show that drowning usually occurs in low- and middle-income countries while the drowning rate is also higher among vulnerable groups. Every minute, a child loses his or her life to the water.

She noted that Africa has the highest drowning rate, but the highest child drowning rate is in the Asia-Pacific region.

In fact, drowning is completely preventable by simple solutions such as swimming lessons, lifebuoys, and public services delivered at a large scale and low cost which can save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Ambassador Nga said it’s 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 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.-VNA