The World Health Organization (WHO) state the following key facts in relation to the global drowning problem:
· Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.
- There are an estimated 236 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.
- Global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning.
- Children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.
Drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for young people in every region of the world, with children under five disproportionately affected. Drowning kills two thirds of the number of those who die from malnutrition and over half the number of those killed by malaria.
These shocking statistics, from the World Health Organisation’s 2014 Global Report on Drowning, show the scale of the problem throughout the world – especially in poorer countries where people are in daily contact with water for work, transport and agriculture.
Prevention is essential, as when someone starts to drown, the outcome is often fatal. Survival usually depends on the speed of removal from the water and how quickly proper resuscitation can take place. So embedding basic swimming and lifesaving education, skills and leadership can make a real difference to communities around the world.
The Royal Life Saving Society supports the ten actions to prevent drowning outlined in the WHO report, both community based action and effective policies and legislation. Drowning prevention is a multi-sectoral issue, with much to be gained from working together with organisations across the heath, education and governmental sectors in all countries.
As an accredited organisation with the Commonwealth Secretariat, RLSS is well placed to take a leading and partnership role in downing prevention efforts across the Commonwealth, and is committed to working with other Commonwealth organisations to help reduce the terrible toll of death by drowning around the world.