Fiji Time: 3:44 PM on Monday 24 November

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Head above water

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, May 07, 2012

IT is something that can be prevented.

But despite numerous advice and awareness, it continues to escalate.

Apart from affecting an individual's family, it also has an effect on the country's economy.

Drowning has claimed more lives in the country so far this year compared to other tragedies.

So far, there have been 32 deaths by drowning in the country compared to 17 for the same period last year.

The World Health Organization defines drowning as the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid.

With the view to reduce drowning cases in the country, the Fiji Water Safety Council has been formed.

It recently held its second stakeholders meeting and is in the process of getting registered through the legal means.

A paper by the Dean of the Fiji National University's College of Business, Hospitality and Tourism, Dr Mahendra Reddy was presented at that meeting.

Dr Reddy described loss by drowning as the stoppage of that able-bodied person to contribute positively to the economy.

He described loss output as the loss of drowned life from between 18 and 55 years, with 18 years being maximum and 55 years as being at the bottom of production scale/Gross Domestic Product/number of deaths. Statistics reveal that 653 people died by drowning from 1999 to 2011, with the total cost of lost output being $89.5million.

Dr Reddy calculated the average loss per year from deaths by drowning at $6.9 million with the average cost per person at $137,060.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said most of the deaths by drowning this year were during the floods experienced between January and March.

Insp Sokomuri said some children were also included in the drowning statistics for this year like previous years.

He said the drowning deaths of children were the result of lack of supervision or negligence by parents and elders in the family.

On the other hand, he said, some people drowned because they took the risk of swimming across flooded rivers or creeks to either reach their homes or to save their livestock.

"People should take responsibility of supervising their children at all times to prevent drowning and they should also act responsibly and sensibly at all times," he said.





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