Drowning Prevention Program

Finding solutions to a leading killer of children in Bangladesh and the Philippines

Each year, drowning claims the lives of 360,000 people. Low- and middle-income countries bear the greatest burden of drowning, accounting for over 90 percent of global drowning deaths. Sixty percent of all drowning deaths are among those under 30-years-old, with children between 1-4 years-old at a much higher risk of drowning. Many of these deaths can be prevented.

Bloomberg Philanthropies launched its Drowning Prevention Program in 2012 and currently focuses in two countries – Bangladesh and the Philippines.

 

Three primary outcomes of the Drowning Prevention Program, include:

  1. Identifying a cost-effective set of approaches to drowning prevention interventions that can be scaled-up in other low- and middle-income countries
  2. Publishing a global report on drowning deaths to increase global advocacy and attention on the issue
  3. Building a drowning prevention network through convenings and small grants in order to engage public health professionals and advocates who will be ready to participate in future drowning prevention efforts

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 in Bangladesh with at least 12,000 deaths per year.

Studies show that most of these drowning deaths occur in small bodies of water, within 20 yards of their home, and particularly during hours when adults are working and children often go unsupervised.

To directly address these two major factors in preventable child drowning deaths, Bloomberg Philanthropies funded Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health from 2012-2017 to implement a two-year study evaluating potentially effective drowning prevention interventions: community daycare and playpens in 71,000 children under 5-years-old in Bangladesh. The official results of the study are forthcoming, but early analysis shows that community daycare reduced 70 percent of drowning deaths. Community daycare is also a very cost effective strategy and has secondary benefits, such as cognitive development.

In the Philippines, 4,000 people drown each year. Our partner World Health Organization is supporting drowning prevention in the Philippines by providing technical assistance to develop a national strategy to prevent drowning deaths, and also supporting local communities to install water barriers.

Additionally, Bloomberg Philanthropies supported the 2014 Global Report on Drowning, published by the World Health Organization and the accompanying report published in 2017, Preventing Drowning: an Implementation Guide.
 

Next Steps in Drowning Prevention

On May 2, 2017, we announced a commitment of $25 million to expand our drowning prevention program. Details on this expanded program are coming soon.