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Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $10 Million to Save Children from Drowning

Program Will Focus on 1- to 4-year-olds in Bangladesh, Where Drowning is the Leading Cause of Death Among Children

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced a new $10 million commitment to prevent drowning deaths in children aged 1 to 4. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Drowning Prevention Project will initially focus on Bangladesh, where drowning is the leading cause of death among children. Every year in Bangladesh, 12,000 children drown, the equivalent of 32 deaths every day.

Bloomberg Philanthropies uses data on the leading causes of death globally to identify areas where philanthropy can help save the most lives. Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death worldwide, accounting for over 350,000 deaths per year according to the World Health Organization – and nearly 50,000 drowning deaths each year involve children under five years old, with the vast number of fatalities occurring in low- and middle -income countries. Studies show that most of these drowning deaths occur in small bodies of water, close to where children live, and especially during hours when adults are working and children often go unsupervised.

To directly address these two major factors in preventable child drowning deaths – lack of supervision and easy access to water – the Drowning Prevention Project is testing two high-potential interventions: community daycare centers that provide child supervision, and locally manufactured playpens for children. The Project will monitor 80,000 children over a two-year period and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions, individually and combined, in preventing drowning deaths.

“Drowning is a tragedy that cuts short so many promising young lives and breaks so many parents’ hearts,” said Dr. Kelly Henning, who leads Public Health programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “It’s a problem that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, especially because simple steps can save so many lives. In Bangladesh, we will work to improve supervision of children while adults are working and to provide equipment that can keep children out of harm’s way.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies is partnering with the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to identify scalable solutions to help prevent drowning deaths, and to build strong networks between public health officials and advocates who may participate in future efforts. Bloomberg Philanthropies is also supporting the World Health Organization to publish an evidence-based global report on drowning prevention later this year and to provide expert guidance on effective strategies to battle this global killer.

“We need an approach that uses reliable data to demonstrate how we can address these risks. Examining what strategies work will serve as a model to prevent drowning on a global scale,” said Dr. Adnan Hyder, Director of the International Injury Research Unit of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which is leading the study.

“Drowning prevention is possible but remains a significantly underfunded public health issue,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the World Health Organization’s department of violence and injury prevention and disability. “This investment is very much in step with the data-driven approach of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and has the potential to save thousands of lives.”

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $452 million. For more information, please visit