Bloomberg Commits $25 Million to Expand Drowning Prevention Program

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $25 million expansion of its global drowning prevention program.

Piloted in 2012, the first phase of the program tested the effectiveness of playpens and community day care as prevention measures in Bangladesh and found day care to be effective among children under the age of 5. Announced at a forum of experts, phase two will expand the use of day care and provide support for survival swimming programs in Vietnam. The program also will implement surveys in two countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a region the World Health Organization estimates has the highest rates of drowning deaths but for which very little country-specific data is available.

According to WHO, an estimated 360,000 people, including 60,000 children under the age of 5, drown each year. In partnership with WHO, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Synergos, the funding from Bloomberg, which also supported WHO's just-released report Preventing Drowning: An Implementation Guide (116 pages, PDF), will support implementation of the expanded program and monitoring through 2022.

"Three-quarters of children who drown do so no more than sixty-five feet from their front door," said Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Michael R. Bloomberg, who serves as WHO global ambassador for non-communicable diseases. "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."