More than 78 000 people drowned in the Western Pacific Region in 2015. With 30% of all drowning deaths under the age of 15, drowning kills more children under than the age of 15 in the Western Pacific Region than tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, measles, meningitis, dengue and malaria combined. In addition to the significant number of deaths, non-fatal drowning (where individuals are rescued and/or resuscitated) results in a substantial number of hospitalizations, impacting the health system.
Despite the magnitude and preventability of drowning, priority for action is limited in many low and middle income countries.
Major risk factors for drowning include age, sex, exposure to water, lack of effective supervision of children and the frequency of natural and water transport related disasters. All of these risk factors are well represented in the Western Pacific and the region claims 22% of the global burden of drowning.
WHO's Global Report on Drowning (2014) highlighted the magnitude of drowning relative to a range of other public health priorities, particularly those impacting children, and devised a set of 10 evidence based recommendations. Preventing drowning: an implementation guide (2017), provided stakeholders and counterparts with additional guidance on how to implement WHO recommendations.
WHO support to countries has focused on building national capacity for the implementation of evidence based actions for drowning prevention, as well as demonstrating the effectiveness of WHO recommended interventions in practice.
200people drown each day in low- and middle-income countries.Drowning fact sheet