Article Text

Download PDFPDF

825 The burden of drowning in Sri Lanka: 2001 to 2006 and 2009
  1. Bernadette Matthews1,
  2. Rhiannon Birch1,
  3. Mevan Jayawardena1,
  4. Dushani Mathew2,
  5. Asanka Nanayakkara2,
  6. Sanath Wiyayaratne2,
  7. Samath D Dharmaratne3
  1. 1Life Saving Victoria
  2. 2Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka
  3. 3Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka


Introduction Drowning is a major cause of death and injury in Sri Lanka. Published data on the number and causes of drowning incidents are scarce. Therefore, we undertook this analysis to describe the burden of drowning in Sri Lanka using available data from 2001 to 2006 and 2009.

Methods Data from the first drowning report, ‘Drowning prevention report Sri Lanka’, published in December, 2014 by the Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka and Life Saving Victoria was used in this analysis. This report includes unintentional drowning deaths reported in Sri Lanka during the study period.

Results During study period, on average, 855 people died from drowning each year, producing a drowning rate of 4.4 deaths per 100,000 persons. Males were four times more likely to drown than females. Adults aged 25 to 44 years had the highest number of drowning deaths, followed by the 45 to 64 year group, but the age specific death rate was highest in those aged 65 years and over (8.25 deaths per 100,000). Lakes, wells and open cisterns, and the ocean were the commonest reported drowning locations in Sri Lanka.

Conclusions Globally, the drowning rate of Sri Lanka is ranked 12th in a comparison of 61 countries, highlighting that this is an important public health problem. Middle aged males are mainly affected, therefore intervention strategies are needed to target this group. Significantly, the highest risk location is lakes, although Sri Lanka is an island. This analysis, a first of its kind, should be used by policy makers to control and prevent deaths from drowning in Sri Lanka.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.