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61% of Global Drowning Deaths in 2019 was in Asia Pacific region: WHO report

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The World Health Organization (WHO) released 2 reports ‘Regional status report on drowning in the Western Pacific’ & ‘Regional status report on drowning in the Asia Pacific region’. It is the 1st WHO regional assessment on drowning prevention.

  • In 48 of 85 countries, drowning is among the top 5 causes of death for children under the age of 15 years.
  • The report states that on average, men were 3-4 times more likely to drown than women.
  • Drowning accounts for 75% of all deaths in flood disasters. Countries in South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions are particularly vulnerable to Flood disasters due to climate change.

Key Points

i.The report states that over 1,44,000 people drowned in the Asia Pacific region in 2019, accounting for 61% of global drowning deaths.

ii.In the South-East Asia region, drowning had claimed the lives of around 70,000 people while it claimed 74,000 in the Western Pacific region.

  • In the South-East Asia region, 33% of drowning were among children aged under 15 years.
  • In the Western Pacific Region, Older people accounted for 34% of drowning deaths in 2019. 66% of drowning deaths were among men.

iii.The report highlights the difference in drowning rates across the Western Pacific. The drowning rates in lower-middle-income countries are nearly 4 times higher than those in high-income countries.

  • The Federated States of Micronesia has the highest drowning death rate at 15.1 per 100000 population compared to Australia where the rate is 0.7 per 100000.

Extreme Weather Events leading to Increased Drowning

i.Climate Change is putting already vulnerable communities and individuals at increased drowning risk.

ii.Frequent and Extreme weather events will lead to regular and intense floods; this will increase the populations’ exposure to potentially hazardous interactions with water.


The report provides countries with best practices on drowning prevention interventions and policies, day care for children, public awareness campaigns focused on behaviour change and others.

About WHO

Director General – Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia)
Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland