Childhood drowning in low- and middle-income countries: Urgent need for intervention trials

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health








Child health; Drowning; Injury prevention; Low- and middle-income countries


Data available for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) indicate that the burden of drowning in children is significant and becoming a leading public health problem. At the same time, interventions for drowning are not well documented in LMICs. The overall purpose of this paper is to make the case for research investments in conducting intervention trials to prevent child drowning in LMICs. In high-income countries (HICs), existing drowning prevention interventions include among others: pool fencing, supervision, lifeguards and water safety training at a young age. However, these measures may not be the most relevant in curtailing the number of drowning deaths in LMICs. There are differences with regard to geographical, social, cultural and behavioural factors associated with drowning between HICs and LMICs, often making it inappropriate to apply existing interventions directly in LMIC settings. This paper focuses on drowning from LMICs and reveals a dearth of data on incidence rates and risk factors; absence of public health interventions; lack of research on intervention effectiveness and cost-effectiveness; and paucity of national drowning prevention programs. Based on this evidence, this paper calls for immediate attention to drowning prevention by increasing research investments. This paper specifically discusses Bangladesh as a case study and proposes a drowning intervention study focusing on children less than 5 years in LMICs as an example of appropriate research investment. © 2008 The Authors.