Violence and injury prevention

Drowning

In 2012, more than 81 000 people drowned in the Western Pacific Region. More than 30% of drowning fatalities are in children under the age of 15, making it the leading cause of deaths for children aged 5 and 14 years in the Region. Over 20% of all drowning deaths globally occur in the Western Pacific and the vast majority of these occur in low- and middle-income countries. It is important to note that global data on drowning substantially underestimates the magnitude of the problem as it excludes drowning related to natural and transportation disasters.

Age is one of the major risk factors for drowning. This is often associated with a lapse in adult supervision. Children aged 1–4 years of age have the highest drowning mortality rates. Males are especially at risk of drowning, with twice the overall mortality rate of females.

WHO launched the Global Report on Drowning in November 2014, providing recommendations on ways to reduce this preventable tragedy. Examples include the strategic use of barriers to prevent access to water by young children, teaching school-aged children survival swimming skills and national water safety plans that consolidate whole-of-government action to prevent drowning. Some of these strategies are currently being piloted in the Philippines which has one of the highest mortality rates for drowning in the Region.

Key facts

200people drown each day in low- and middle-income countries.

Drowning fact sheet

Featured publications

Regional Action Plan for Violence and Injury Prevention in the Western Pacific (2016–2020)

Road safety in the Western Pacific Region 2015

Violence in the Western Pacific Region 2014

Contact

Violence and Injury Prevention
Division of NCD and Health through the Life-Course
World Health Organization
Regional Office for the Western Pacific
P.O. Box 2932
1000 Manila
wprovip@who.int