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Asia-Pacific Drowning Prevention Development Through Collaboration

Norman Farmer ESM, President Asia-Pacific Region

Last week in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, more than 40 administrators and lifesavers from 15 Asia-Pacific countries gathered to share, learn and collaborate on drowning prevention capacity and capability building.

The goal of this project was to respond to the 2014 World Health Organisation Global report on drowning and using the 2017 WHO Preventing drowning: an implementation guide to enable The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) Asia-Pacific Region through collaboration to build stronger in-country lifesaving organisations by expanding their relevant knowledge, skills, resources and techniques for the development of drowning prevention initiatives in their countries.

Following discussions with Mr Lim, President of the Life Saving Society Malaysia (LSSM), the project was modified to include a one-day event organised by the Water Activity Safety Council (WASC) under the auspices of the Malaysia Ministry of Housing and Local Government. This event, titled the Malaysia Special National Training Session of Drowning Prevention and Life Saving was held at the Malaysian National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH). While the content of this one-day event had an emphasis on issues for Malaysia and their WASC, the content was also relevant for the other countries and as such they were invited to participate. The purpose of this day was to input international and local Malaysia expertise into the development of priorities for the WASC and the Malaysia Drowning Prevention Plan.

The participating Lifesaving Organisations in the Asia-Pacific Region and members of RLSS and the ILS were as follows.

  • Australia – The Royal Life Saving Society Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia
  • Bangladesh – Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB)
  • Brunei Darussalam – The Beach Bunch
  • Hong Kong – Hong Kong Life Saving Society
  • India – Rashtriya Life Saving Society India
  • Indonesia – Balawista (Surf Life Saving) Indonesia
  • Iran – Iranian Diving and Lifesaving Association
  • Korea – Korean Lifesaving Association
  • Malaysia – Life Saving Society Malaysia (including LSSM Penang and Kinabalu Life Saving Society)
  • New Zealand – Royal Life Saving Society New Zealand and Surf Life Saving New Zealand
  • Pakistan – Pakistan Aquatic Life Saving Foundation (PALS)
  • Philippines – Philippines Life Saving Society
  • Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka Life Saving
  • Thailand – Thai Life Saving Society and Surf Life Saving Thailand
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE) – UAE Swimming, Lifesaving Division

The three-day programme was structured as follows.

  • Day 1 – Malaysia Special National Training Session of Drowning Prevention and Life Saving, with an emphasis on issues for Malaysia and their WASC, which was also relevant for the other countries attending.
  • Days 2 & 3 – the joint RLSS and ILS Asia-Pacific drowning prevention development workshop, that included awareness of the activities of attending lifesaving organisations, project planning skills and impacts, and CPR education using Laerdal Mini-Anne resuscitation manikins.


The project included an expansion of the RLSS Resuscitation Equipment for Low Resource Settings project supported by Laerdal to include 7 Asia-Pacific member organisations of RLSS and the ILS.

The project was made possible through excellent collaboration efforts of the Malaysia Water Activity Safety Council and Ministry of Housing and Local Government, NIOSH, the ILS Asia-Pacific Region, RLSS, LSSM, RLSSA and the leadership team that included Dr Shayne Baker, Ms Amy Peden, Mr Craig Roberts, Mr Chien Ch’eng Lim and Mr Thuan Tek Geh.