Drowning injuries in Vietnam: More burden in vulnerable group

TitleDrowning injuries in Vietnam: More burden in vulnerable group
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsNguyen, TTN, Vos, T
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published05/2011
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationDanang, Vietnam
Other Numbers044


The World Health Organization (WHO) in recent years showed that drowning is one of the leading causes of fatal injuries in the world, particularly in developing countries. Drowning is a particularly large cause of death in Vietnam. We compare deaths and DALYs from drowning in Vietnam with Thailand and Malaysia.


A Burden of Disease (BOD) study was done in Thailand in 1999; in Malaysia in 2000; and in Vietnam in 2008. BOD of each country combined both mortality and disability components into a single metric, the Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY). The method of estimating mortality varied between the three countries depending on available data sources. The Thai vital registration (VR) system has more than 40% ill-defined causes of death. Instead, the causes of death were derived from a large verbal autopsy (VA ) study in 10 provinces and correction of underreporting of deaths based on an intercensal survey. In Malaysia, the VR is complete for the majority of the population living on the Peninsula. For the states of Sabah and Sarawak, morality rates were computed from a small study of completeness of their VR data. In Vietnam, causes of death were also determined by VA in a representative sample of communes. For morbidity due to drowning, both Thailand’s and Malaysia’s BOD used data from hospital admissions to estimate incidence rate. Vietnam’s incidence was derived from a national injury study. The results are presented as age-standardised death rates and DALY rates per 100,000 population.

The death rate of drowning in Vietnam in 2008 (7.6 per 100,000) was higher than that in Malaysia (3.6 per 100,000) but lower than the rate in Thailand (9.2 per 100,000). In Vietnam and Thailand death rates from drowning were 2.5 times higher in males compared to females. The sex ratio in Malaysia was 3.5. Drowning death rates in all three countries were highest in the young and the elderly. Drowning was the 14th leading cause of disease burden in Viet Nam. The ranks in Thailand and Malaysia were 19 and 34, respectively. However, the Viet Nam study included fewer diseases than the studies in the other two countries.

Conclusion and discussion

Drowning is an important cause of death and disease burden in Vietnam and the two other South East Asian countries for which we had comparable data. Drowning prevention in the region deserves attention in priority setting.