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Developing Countries: Drownings

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what work his Department has undertaken to reduce deaths by drowning in the developing world; and if he will make a statement; (245250)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of deaths by drowning in the developing world in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has no specific programmes targeted to reduce the number of deaths by drowning. However, DFID makes significant investments in public health and education in developing countries, both of which will help improve accident prevention.

The UK Government do not make its own estimates of cause-specific mortality. The World Health Organisation (WHO) publishes information on cause-specific mortality for countries, regions and globally. The latest available estimates are for 2002 and show that an estimated 376,000 people drowned, making it the third leading cause of unintentional injury death globally after road traffic injuries and falls. These global burden of disease figures are an under-estimate of all drowning deaths, since they exclude drowning due to floods (cataclysms), boating and water transport. The vast majority (approximately 97 per cent.) of all drowning deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.