The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, which was was initiated by Bangladesh and Ireland and co-sponsored by 79 nations, calling on governments around the world to take action to avoid drowning for the first time in its 75-year history.
According to the UN, drowning claims the lives of 235,000 people every year, with 90% of them occurring in low- and middle-income countries, with Asia bearing the brunt of the toll, reports The United Nations Correspondent.
Bangladesh is one of the countries with the largest number of drownings.
The vast majority of drowning could and should have been avoided, according to the World Drowning Prevention Resolution.
Drowning is a major cause of global mortality, according to Bangladesh UN Ambassador Rabab Fatima, accounting for more deaths per year than maternal mortality or malnutrition.
"The imperative to act on drowning is not simply moral or political. The economic cost is equally untenable," said Ambassador Fatima.
Fatima added that drowning is a leading cause of child mortality in Bangladesh and the resolution establishes a mechanism for global and national cooperation in the fight against drowning.
"It is our immense pleasure to partner with the Government of Bangladesh – on the frontline of the fight against drowning – in sponsoring this initiative," said Ireland's UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason.
"This resolution, and the first ever World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July, are a moment to highlight the immediate need for strategic and significant international action to save lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths," she added.
The World Health Organization said its latest estimates showed 235,000 deaths by drowning every year. It said drowning and some preventable diseases disproportionately affect children and adolescents in rural areas.
"Through this new UN General Assembly Resolution, member states are giving drowning its due recognition, commensurate with the impact it has on families and communities around the world," said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health at WHO.
The resolution said that drowning is preventable and that scalable, low-cost interventions exist. Governments are encouraged, on a voluntary basis, to undertake a range of coordinated recognized interventions, relevant to national circumstances.
Michael Bloomberg, the WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, said the resolution is encouraging governments to adopt effective measures to prevent drowning will save thousands of lives and call attention to this urgent public health issue.
"For nearly a decade, Bloomberg Philanthropies has been working in Bangladesh and other countries where drowning rates are especially high. Our work has helped save lives and demonstrated the effectiveness of low-cost interventions like those outlined in today's resolution. We have the tools to prevent these deaths – and need to act on them now," Bloomberg said.