Governments Should Mobilize To Address Drowning Deaths Worldwide

“In an age of ethnic conflict, fatal disease and chronic malnutrition, it seems strange to stumble across figures such as this: 388,000 people die every year from drowning, according to the World Health Organization,” a Washington Post editorial writes. “To put this number in perspective, drowning accounts for nearly 1 in 10 deaths worldwide,” the editorial continues, adding, “It is the third-leading cause of unintentional death” and “the greatest cause of injury and unintentional death among children younger than five in both the United States and Asia.” The editorial states, “What makes this public health crisis particularly problematic is that, unlike fatal disease and chronic malnutrition, drowning is not an issue at the forefront of humanitarian aid efforts.”

Noting the Alliance for Safe Children and UNICEF’s Office of Research “released a report [.pdf] in May that found that nearly all drowning-induced deaths are preventable,” the editorial states, “Instead of allowing this problem to languish unaddressed, governments should mobilize support for demonstrably effective and low-cost prevention strategies.” The editorial cites several examples highlighted in the report and concludes, “When the data are so clear and the solutions so straightforward, it is time to address what [Gordon Alexander, director of UNICEF’s Office of Research,] correctly termed this ‘hidden killer'” (7/11).