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ILS Welcomes Bloomberg Philanthropies Investment in Drowning Prevention

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that drowning claims the lives of more than 60,000 children under the age of five and more than 360,000 people globally.

On May 2nd 2017 in New York, Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced a $25 million expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global drowning prevention programme at a convening of experts.

“Three quarters of children who drown do so no more than 65 feet from their front door,” said Bloomberg. “There is a shocking lack of data on where, when, and how people – especially children – drown globally, and this new work will help us better define the problem.”

The World Health Organisation released WHO report Preventing drowning: an implementation guide. This is a follow-up resource to the very successful Global Report on Drowning and was published by the WHO and funded by Bloomberg. The resource outlines actions that can be taken to reduce drowning in all communities.

In welcoming the Report and the Bloomberg Philanthropies investment, Justin Scarr, the ILS Drowning Prevention Commission Chair said “This is an historic milestone in effort to reduce drowning globally. The WHO report Preventing Drowning: an implementation guide outlines the actions that lifesavers and lifeguards, drowning prevention volunteers and professionals can take to save lives in the communities most at risk of drowning”

The ILS also welcomes the investment of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The impact of Michael R. Bloomberg urging Donors and Governments to Reduce Global Drowning Deaths should not be under-estimated. This will build momentum for drowning preventions efforts worldwide” said Mr Scarr.

The report outlines the severity of drowning as a global crisis and presents a range of effective drowning prevention strategies and recommended measures to be taken by national and local governments.

Key prevention policies include:

  • Providing safe places for pre-school children
  • Installing barriers controlling access to water
  • Teaching school-age children swimming and water skills
  • Building resilience and managing flood risks
  • Training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation
  • Set and enforce safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations.

The ILS will host the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Vancouver in October 2017. The event will explore ways that the drowning prevention community can work with WHO and others to implement the recommendations of this vital report. We also hope to showcase many of the research projects being supported by this historic investment in drowning prevention.

Justin Scarr
Chair – Drowning Prevention Commission
International Life Saving Federation