More men than women are victims of drowning in Sri Lanka, according to the first World Health Organization (WHO) regional assessments on drowning prevention released to mark World Drowning Prevention Day today.
According to the report, in the South-East Asia Region, males and those aged under 24 years bear the greatest burden of drowning.
At the regional level, males are three times more likely to drown than females, while in Sri Lanka and Thailand, males are four times more likely to drown than females. More than half of estimated drowning deaths are among people aged 1–24 years.
In Sri Lanka there is an overall national policy and strategic framework on injury prevention and management that includes drowning (2016).
In 2019, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s Domestic Tourism and Community Relations division implemented a drowning prevention and lifesaving programme to protect tourists. Run in conjunction with the Sri Lanka Coast Guard Department, three lifesaving units at Bentota, Mirissa and Hikkaduwa have been upgraded, with jet-skis provided to each.
Drowning claimed the lives of an estimated 70 000 and 74 000 people in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, respectively.
The two WHO reports, Regional Status Report on Drowning in the Western Pacific and Regional Status Report on Drowning in South-East Asia, also warn that climate change, to which the Asia Pacific region is particularly vulnerable, places already vulnerable communities and individuals at increased drowning risk. More frequent and extreme weather events can lead to more regular and intense floods, increasing populations’ exposure to potentially hazardous interactions with water.