News Item


Drowning in Numbers - New TASC/UNICEF report released

A report released by Royal Life Saving partners The Alliance for Safe Children and UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre reinforces the notion that child drowning is a hidden epidemic across many countries in Asia.

The report titled Child Drowning - Evidence for a newly recognized cause of child mortality in low and middle income countries in Asia is the second in a series which first pointed to the magnitude of child injury deaths across five countries; Viet Nam, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines and Thailand.

This new report focuses specifically on drowning, outlining evidence that it is a bigger problem than official records show, that there are now interventions proven in the low and middle income country (LMIC) context, and outlining the challenges of raising national, regional and global action.

Key points include:

  • Drowning is a leading killer of children after infancy in many countries in Asia
  • Drowning deaths are heavily concentrated in early childhood; for children aged 1 to 4 years, drowning is responsible for 25% of deaths from all causes
  • Research shows that two key intervention are highly effective at reducing drowning
  • New research into prevention interventions in an operational research programme called PRECISE (in Bangladesh) shows startling results   
  • As a result of having adequate supervision and protection from drowning hazards, drowning death rates in children aged 1-5 attending  village crèches were 82% lower than among children who did not attend
  • Drowning death rates in children 4 years and older who participated in SwimSafe (water safety, survival swimming and safe rescue training) were more than 90% lower than  among children who did not attend

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has been a partner in this ground breaking research since its inception in 2005. “We are pleased that evidence supports SwimSafe and the crèche program in reducing child drowning in rural communities in Asia, our challenge now is to rapidly increase the scale of programs in countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand” said Justin Scarr, Co-author and Chief Operating Officer, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.

Royal Life Saving is extremely proud to have contributed to global drowning prevention research in this way. We wish to pay tribute to all of the volunteers and staff who have contributed in various ways though long term Australian Youth Ambassador Assignments, short term train-the-trainer mission and ongoing technical input and advocacy.

Royal Life Saving continues to work in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Vietnam. It has established the Global Drowning Fund – Australia to focus these efforts and raise important funds. Corporates, community members and supporters can donate tax deductable funds via www.globaldrowningfund.org.au.

For as little as $22 per month, a class of 15 children can be taught the lifesaving skills of survival swimming. $80 per month will build a community crèche and protect up to 25 children (1-5) from drowning, four hours a day, six days a week.

To donate please click here

To download the report, please click on the title below:

Child Drowning - Evidence for a newly recognized cause of child mortality in low and middle income countries in Asia

Media Contacts:

Justin Scarr

Chief Operating Officer

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia

Tel: +61408 434 011

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