Beaches and recreational waters could be much safer
Hundreds of thousands of drownings could be prevented each year through simple preventive tools. To minimize deaths, illness and injuries at the beach, in oceans, lakes and rivers, the World Health Organization (WHO) is today launching Guidelines for safe recreational water environments. Beaches and bodies of water failing to meet safety standards are a worldwide public health problem, and can make people ill, cause disability and death. In Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific, for example, coastal and inland freshwater bathing waters are often affected by faecal matter and sewage, rendering their use risky for human health.
“Risks such as infection, injuries and death from accidents and drowning, present a large burden of disease worldwide. Because recreational bathing has so many potential health benefits in terms of exercise and relaxation, it becomes all the more important to ensure that recreational bathing becomes safer," said Dr Jamie Bartram, Coordinator, WHO Water and Sanitation for Health programme. The WHO Guidelines cover drowning and injury, exposure to cold, heat and sunlight, water quality, contamination of beach sand and exposure to algae, chemical and physical agents and dangerous aquatic organisms. Use of the guidelines can make swimming, fishing, walking, wading, birdwatching, sunbathing and picnicking safer.
Gregory Hartl | WHO
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