Fatal Drowning in Commonwealth Countries

Inaugural Commonwealth report identifies drowning as a serious health issue and highlights proactive prevention measures

February 2020 saw the completion of an illuminating report, the first of its kind, to provide a detailed analysis on the issue of fatal drowning across the Commonwealth, with additional information on both strategic and practical, achievable preventative measures.

Published in July, the Fatal Drowning in Commonwealth Countries Fact Sheet, led by Dr Aminur Rahman, the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) Drowning Prevention Director, based with the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB), the RLSS Member in Bangladesh, gives an evidence-based estimate of fatal drownings in Commonwealth nations. This data provides a better understanding of the mortality burden in Commonwealth countries, ultimately leading to more effective prevention actions.

The most recent figures estimate Commonwealth drowning fatalities number 110,594, accounting for over a third of all fatal drownings globally. Of all the countries in the Commonwealth, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan bear the heaviest burden of tragedies, accounting for over three quarters of the estimated Commonwealth drowning fatality total.

“More than 300 people die from drowning each day across the Commonwealth, with low and middle-income (LMIC) countries the most vulnerable. Drowning is preventable even in these LMICs. Now is the time for action by the Commonwealth nations, to prevent these unnecessary deaths” highlights the report lead, Dr Aminur Rahman.

These measures will align with RLSS’s position statement on the ‘Connection of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the Global Drowning Prevention Effort’, that sees allied partners develop and maintain drowning prevention work, alongside the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Global Report on Drowning’, and the relevant SDGs.

RLSS Commonwealth President, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, added his voice to the call for action:

“Over the last year, the Royal Life Saving Society has been undertaking a vital piece of work, to report the number of deaths by drowning in the Commonwealth.

“Today, I am calling on all Commonwealth Governments and supported agencies, to use the data in the Commonwealth Fatal Drowning Fact Sheet, in collaboration with key agencies and lifesaving organisations, to start the process that ultimately could see accidental drowning a thing of the past.

“I implore you to share this important issue with your governments and put an end to the unnecessary loss of life through simple, yet effective, drowning prevention interventions.”