News & Events

The Global Drowning Problem


Every 85 seconds, someone in the world drowns.


Drowning is a silent epidemic that claims an estimated 360,000 lives every year. But this leading killer isn’t getting the global attention it deserves.


To put this conservative estimate into context, it’s the equivalent of 70% of the global death toll from malnutrition, and 60% of malaria.


In many parts of Asia, drowning is now the leading killer of children over the age of 1. In Bangladesh, for example, 50 children drown every day. Over 90% of drownings happen in Africa and Asia - the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that drowning rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are 10 times higher than in the UK.


The WHO estimates that around 360,000 people drown worldwide each year, but this is a conservative estimate because: 


  • people drown in lakes, rivers, ponds and oceans - not hospitals - making formal reporting of these deaths rare.
  • it doesn’t include deaths from transport accidents such as ferries sinking, natural disasters like floods, or migrants lost as they cross open water - tragedies that kill thousands each year.


RNLI works across the world with partners in Bangladesh, Ghana, Tanzania to share effective lifesaving interventions and we want to make drowning prevention a priority worldwide and reduce this staggering loss of life.


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Credit: RNLI


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