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More Thai kids can swim, but ‘too many’ still drowning

Drowning is the leading cause of death among Thai children under age 15, a new report affirms.

The report from the National Institute for Child and Family Development says the number of childhood drownings is at “an all-time low” but “still not low enough”.

“In nearly two decades there have been 22,700 drowning cases,” it says. “That’s between the years 2000 and 2018. That averages out to nearly 1,300 child drownings every year.”

At the peak, more than 50 per cent of childhood deaths were due to drowning, with 25 per cent attributed to road accidents and 8 per cent to falling from heights.

Most children drown when their parents let them out of their sight or when they sneak off to play in the water without knowing how to swim, the report says.

But institute director Dr Adisak Plitponkarnpim says public awareness and more children being taught to swim have steadily reduced fatalities over the past 18 years.

“The number of drowning deaths has nearly halved in the past 10 years, but drowning remains the No 1 killer of our children,” Adisak said.

He said it was heartening that many schools now include swimming lessons in their curricula.

The institute aims to lower the number of child drownings to less than 250 a year by 2022.