Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death worldwide, claiming about 236,000 lives each year. Over 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with children under the age of five being at highest risk. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative to Prevent Drowning supports drowning-prevention activities in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Uganda, including supervision of young children in daycare, survival swimming instruction to children ages 6-15, and enhanced data collection.
Over 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with children under the age of five being at highest risk.
Since the program began working in Bangladesh in 2012, Bloomberg Philanthropies has expanded work to identify a cost-effective set of approaches to drowning prevention interventions that can be scaled up in other low- and middle-income countries.
In February 2022, the Government of Bangladesh approved a $32 million, three-year program to reduce drowning among children throughout the country. As part of the program, the government will take over the 2,500 daycares established and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies since 2012, and will expand the program by adding an additional 5,500 daycares to provide supervision to 200,000 children ages 1-5. Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide technical assistance to the government in the scale up and implementation of the 8,000 daycares.
To tackle specific causes of drowning at the local level in particular countries, Bloomberg Philanthropies has also launched tailored efforts in Vietnam and Uganda. The program has also supported production of the first-ever “Global Report on Drowning,” published by the World Health Organization and the accompanying report published in 2017, “Preventing Drowning: An Implementation Guide.”
In Bangladesh, drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4; studies show that most of these drowning deaths occur in small bodies of water within 20 yards of the home, particularly during hours when children go unsupervised. In response, Bloomberg Philanthropies funded the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to implement a two-year demonstration study evaluating potentially effective drowning prevention interventions like establishing community daycare centers and playpens for children under 5 years old. Based on the study’s results, Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting community daycare for more than 50,000 children across the country.
Bloomberg Philanthropies partners with Synergos, Johns Hopkins University, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, and the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh in this work
Since 2019, together with partners, Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped the government of Vietnam to provide survival swimming classes to over 15,000 children aged 6-15 years in 12 provinces. The government is using this program as a model to expand drowning prevention efforts in provinces around the country.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded data collection throughout the country to better understand the circumstances of drowning. The data will help inform a future drowning prevention strategy for Uganda and will serve as a model for other African countries to follow.
Top photo: Children in Matlab, Bangladesh walk to their new community daycare centers, part of a Bloomberg supported Johns Hopkins University study to prevent drownings.