House Bill 3495 authored by Congressman Siao seeks to mandate swimming as a subject in the K-12 Basic Education Curriculum and integral part of the over-all strategy to reduce the incidence of death from drowning during natural calamities or recreational aquatic activities.
The Philippines is an archipelago consisting of an estimated 7,107 islands with a coastline of about 36,289 kilometers. Besides the different bodies of water surrounding the country, different types of natural water forms within the Philippines such as rivers, lakes, bays and waterfalls collectively known as inland waters. Moreover, the country is often visited by typhoons at an average of 20-25 annually causing floods, flooded areas and flash floods.
“Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer” is a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) that is dedicated exclusively to drowning. It contains information about drowning and drowning prevention and emphasizes that drowning is a serious and neglected public health threat claiming the lives of 372,000 people a year worldwide.
The report says that wherever there is water, there is a threat of drowning. The Philippines as an archipelago with waters within and around and frequently visited by typhoons is indeed a place where there is a high risk of drowning. Hence, drowning prevention measures is a must.
On the Lifesaving Position Statement published by the International Life Saving Federation entitled “Swimming and Water Safety Education,” it cited the study made by UNICEF Bangladesh revealing that possessing a basic level of water safety knowledge coupled with a basic level of swimming skill is sufficient to prevent most drowning incidents.
The United Nations Children’s Fund survey disclosed that drowning is the second leading cause of death among Filipino children aged 14 years and below, and the fourth leading cause of death from injury in the Philippines. Acknowledging these facts, the bill proposes that the K-12 basic education curriculum must include swimming lessons, water safety and safe rescue skills.
The global report suggests that all countries must develop a national water safety plan. This bill seeks to develop a drowning prevention plan that will serve as the master plan for schools and government agencies in formulating the different programs and projects that will help reduce the risk of drowning.
The global report further says that an effective drowning prevention programs and policies may only be achieved through understanding the way communities live around water, thus, it is necessary to take into consideration the circumstances in the locality where the programs and policies shall be implemented. In line with this, the bill seeks to develop a community action plan for each local government units.