The Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) has issued an alert about the risk of accidents as strong winds and large waves persist on Lake Victoria today.
“The marine forecast for today, July 5th, from 0600 (6 a.m.) to 1800 (6 p.m.) indicated moderate winds and waves, giving a warning flag over Lake Victoria. Unfortunately, one boat was affected. UNMA sympathizes with the families of those affected,” the agency said in a tweet.
In addition, UNMA urged the public to take the alert seriously, “requesting that advisories given shouldn’t be ignored”.
Winds and water waves are some of the major contributors to drowning in water bodies in the country.
There is no clear data on annual drowning deaths in Uganda, according to the Health Ministry. But at least 3,500 Ugandans across 74 districts are reported to have drowned over a two-and-a-half-year period, according to a 2021 report by Makerere University’s School of Public Health. This translates into 1,400 deaths per year.
Dr. Frederick Oporia, a lecturer at Makerere University School of Public Health, said earlier that “Uganda has the world’s highest drowning death rate of 502 per 100,000 cases. That is 60 times higher than the estimate on the continent”.
Dr. Oporia said the government should invest in emergency services for water accidents to reduce rescue time.
“The average rescue time is 45 minutes for marine police, but others will take around 7 hours. We need to reduce the rescue time because someone can die after 2 seconds or 3 minutes,” he said.
He, however, notes that the Ministry of Health has secured fourteen (14) boat ambulances, an intervention he says will be essential in reducing drowning-related deaths.
written by @enock katamba
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