Family, Child, Adolescent Health (Includes Maternal & Child Health)
Perceived Causes & Consequences of Childhood Drowning in Matlab, Bangladesh
(Other Public Health Other)
Drowning has been identified to be the second leading cause of death in under-five children, yet very few studies have been done to explore the perceived causes and consequences of community people regarding childhood drowning in rural Bangladesh. Study shows that, these perceptions sometimes prohibit the community from taking any major step to prevent childhood drowning and creating awareness about it (Rahman et al., 2008). In some cases the established stigmas refrain community people from taking appropriate action. However, these perceptions need further exploration so that the risk factors for the higher drowning rate in early childhood can be identified and actions taken. A cross sectional study adopting a mixed-method approach (quantitative followed by qualitative approach) was conducted in order to achieve the study objectives in Matlab, Chandpur, Bangladesh. Data was collected from the SoLiD project area of the ICDDR’B. Villages were selected randomly and within that selected villages, households with children aged between 24 to 59 months was covered for our study. Face to face interview was conducted with 384 children’s care givers with a structured questionnaire. In addition, in depth interviews were also conducted to further explain the perceptions. Data was analyzed in SPSS-20, MS-Excel 2010. Most of the respondents perceived drowning as a very painful and tragic event and took it very naturally. It has been reported that children are curious and interested about water and tend to go to unprotected water body without any idea about safety, so lack of supervision and unsupervised playing were the most common cause which was perceived by the respondents of this study. An interesting finding of this study is that the mothers cannot rescue their children at drowning from the belief that if a parent touches a drowning child, that child will die. They also perceive that drowning is a natural event which might happen as a punishment from God by witchcraft due to some sin or bad behavior or may be just because the life span of the drowned child has come to an end and it’s inevitable. Also, they think that whenever a new pond has been dug, the community should give some offerings like rice, egg, and turmeric to the Water Goddess otherwise she will be dissatisfied and want human beings instead. This belief results into blaming the mothers and practicing ‘Milaad’ or ‘Ganga Puja (worshipping the water goddess)’ and become reluctant in taking effective preventive measures like putting barriers or filling up the unused ditches and active supervision of children. Different cultural and socio-economic background of the community people have less influence on their beliefs about causes and consequences of childhood drowning in rural Bangladesh. Although people and care givers are becoming more concerned about the safety issue of their children, taboos and few local cultural stigmas and practices are still influencing some underlying causes of childhood drowning in that area.