In Focus

236,000 people die of drowning annually


The highest rate of drowning globally is observed among children aged 1-4 years followed by the ones aged 5-9 years

Around 236,000 lives are lost to drowning annually. However, this figure does not account for drowning incidents caused by transportation accidents or floods

Drowning ranks among the top ten causes of death for children and young people aged 1-24 years in every region of the world. Over 90 percent of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, predominantly in rivers, lakes, wells, domestic water storage vessels, and swimming pools.

Over the past decade, according to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019, drowning has caused more than 2.5 million deaths. These numbers exclude drownings resulting from flood-related disasters and water transport incidents, making them an incomplete representation of the worldwide toll.

The highest rate of drowning globally is observed among children aged 1-4 years, followed by the ones aged 5-9 years.

On April 28, 2021, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a historic resolution on global drowning prevention. This resolution acknowledged the global scale and impact of drowning prevention and called for coordinated multisectoral action to address drowning, which is a leading cause of injury-related deaths and disabilities worldwide. 

A crucial aspect of the resolution is the establishment of World Drowning Prevention Day being observed on July 25. All stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organizations are invited and encouraged to participate in this global day of activity.

The adoption of the first-ever UN Resolution on drowning prevention highlights the importance of addressing this issue and its prevention, as recognized by all 193 Member States of the UN. 

Implementing evidence-based, low-cost drowning prevention interventions is expected to significantly reduce the risk of drowning. These interventions include installing barriers to control access to water, providing safe places away from water, teaching swimming and water safety skills, training bystanders in rescue and resuscitation, enforcing safe boating regulations, and improving flood risk management.

Drowning rates per 100,000 population are highest in the Western Pacific region, followed by the African region. There is a significant variation of drowning rates, with a difference of over 68-fold between countries with the lowest and highest rates.

Over 12,000 children (1-14 years old), die from drowning every year in Bangladesh accounting for an average of 32 children drownings every day in the country. Notably, around 90 percent of these cases are not registered with police stations.

An average of 115 drownings occur in Ireland every year. At 79 percent, males represent the vast majority of deaths in Irish waters. The majority of all drownings occur at inland water sites.

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