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World Health Organization Highlights Devastating Global Impact of Drowning

November 17, 2014

The global drowning report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 372,000 lives are lost each year to drowning. Safe Kids Worldwide has joined the worldwide effort to focus more attention on this global health epidemic.

The WHO estimates that more than 1,000 people die from drowning every day, or 40 every hour. The highest rates for drowning are among children under five years of age. More than 90 percent of drownings happen in low- and middle-income countries. The WHO data is the best available but, with drowning deaths going unreported in many countries, the picture is incomplete and the actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher. To understand the true scale of the issue, more information is needed and better recording of data is vital.

The tragedy of the situation is that drowning is largely preventable and, what’s more, the solutions are relatively simple and inexpensive. Safe Kids Worldwide supports the WHO recommendations for improved data, national water safety strategies, tailored programs and global partnerships.

Strategies for local communities include installing barriers to control access to water, providing safe places such as day care centers for children, teaching children basic swimming skills, and training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation.  

We believe that every nation should have a national drowning prevention strategy with a range of practical, effective programs and interventions. We join Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), International Life Saving Federation (ILS), International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB), Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) Commonwealth, Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) Australia, Plan UK, and Lifesaving Society Canada with a shared commitment to make drowning prevention a global priority.