GEORGE TOWN: About 500 children drown each year, making it the second highest cause of death among children aged between one and 18 in the country.
Perak Clinical Research Centre head Dr Amar Singh said based on research conducted by the centre, it was found that 31 children aged between two and nine drowned in hotel and theme park swimming pools between January and September this year.
He said 75 per cent involved children below the age of five.
“The people know that dengue is important. But one dengue-related death involving a child is equal to 30 children who will drown. That is the comparison. Drowning is a much bigger problem.
“The main problem in Malaysia is that children try to save others. Their brothers, siblings and friends… that makes two factors which contribute to drowning.
“The message that is difficult to be passed on to them is that when other people are drowning, you do not get into the water or you will die, too. As a result, sometimes, two, three people die at the same time,” he said.
Amar said this at a press conference held at the launch of the Seminar on Prevention of Drowning by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health president, Lee Lam Thye, who is also a member of the Water Activity Safety Council (MKAA) yesterday.
Amar, who is also head of the paediatric unit at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, Perak, said drowning cases involving children in hotel and theme park swimming pools occurred probably because these were open areas with no fences and lifeguards.
“With the end-of-year school holidays just around the corner, we want to appeal to parents, hotel managers and theme park administrators to increase their vigilance and review safety measures to prevent further drowning involving children.
“It is tragic for a young child to lose their life or be brain-damaged by drowning during a recreational activity,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lee said the local authorities should develop a complete database on the statistics for drowning and other related information so that a comprehensive approach could be introduced to prevent further drowning.
He said the database would enable the relevant agencies and the MKAA to draw short-term and long-term measures to tackle the issue. – Bernama