The community-based joint survey conducted by the George Institute in collaboration with the Child in Need Institute (CINI) in June-September, 2019 was primarily aimed to determine the drowning mortality rate among children aged 1 to 4 years and 5 to 9 years.
When contacted, state Sunderbans Affairs minister Manturam Pakhira said that no such data was in the possession of his department.
“We will, however, look into the matter and take necessary steps to address the problem,” Pakhira told PTI on Sunday.
“The drowning mortality rate among children aged 1-4 years in the region was 243.8 per 1,00,000 children while in the 5-9 years age group it was 38.8 per 1,00,000 children. It was found that 58 per cent of the deaths were among the children aged between 1 to 2 years,” the findings revealed. There was no difference in drowning rates between boys and girls, the study, conducted over a period of four months, said.
“Most children drowned in ponds within 50 metres of their homes. Children were usually unaccompanied with their primary caretaker engaged in household work. A minority of children were treated by formal health providers,” the study, titled “Determining Child Mortality in the Sundarbans India: Applying the Community knowledge approach”, said.
For the survey, a unique community knowledge approach was used, and meetings were held with residents and key informants to identify drowning deaths in the population.
“Identified deaths were verified by the childs family through a structured survey, inquiring on the circumstances around the drowning death,” it said. The Sundeban delta – a UNESCO world heritage site – is spread across North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts of the state.
World Health Organisation (WHO) data had said, out of the 360,000 people, who fatally drowned globally in 2016, more than 50 per cent were children aged under 15 years.
More than 90 per cent of fatal drownings occur in low to middle-income countries and India contributes to 19 per cent of the global drowning burden with estimated 60,000 deaths every year, the WHO had said.