The World Health Organization's (WHO) investment case on drowning prevention shows that investing in daycare for pre-school aged children and teaching basic swimming skills to school-age children could protect millions of lives lost to drowning.
Drowning caused more than 2.5 million deaths in the last decade, with 90% of these fatalities occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Across all age groups, children nine years and younger experience the highest drowning rates.
These numbers may be underreported, as in flood-related disasters, drowning deaths are often registered as due to other reasons. Moreover, many drowning victims never reach a medical facility where their death could be registered.
According to the new WHO's investment case, increasing global investment in two measures could save the lives of over 774,000 children by 2025. Additionally, it could prevent nearly 1 million non-fatal child drownings and severe and life-limiting injuries, such as brain injury, for 178,000 children.
The initial estimated cost to implement the basic swimming and water safety skills intervention is US$16.66 for each participating child, while the day-care intervention is estimated to cost US$26.34 per participating child.
However, increased spending could avert more than $400 billion in potential economic costs of premature death and morbidity in low- and middle-income countries with a high drowning burden.
"By implementing effective preventive measures, increasing investments, and promoting awareness, we can save countless lives," says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.
The WHO is launching the Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention, in which a network of partners will coordinate and expand efforts to prevent drowning deaths, aligned with WHO's priorities.
- World Health Organization. WHO urges countries to invest in drowning prevention to protect children.