Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a new $10 million global initiative to prevent drowning deaths in young children.
According to the World Health Organization, drowning accounts for more than three hundred and fifty thousand deaths per year, including nearly fifty thousand children under the age of 5. The major of those fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries. Initially, the Drowning Prevention Project will focus its activities in Bangladesh, where drowning is the leading cause of death among children, accounting for twelve thousand deaths a year, or roughly thirty-two per day. To help address the primary factors in preventable child drowning deaths — lack of supervision and easy access to water — the project will fund community daycare centers that provide child supervision and locally manufactured playpens for children. The foundation estimates the project will monitor eighty thousand children over a two-year period and then evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions.
The foundation also announced that it is partnering with WHO and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to identify scalable solutions to help prevent drowning deaths and build networks of public health officials and advocates willing to participate in future efforts. With support from the foundation, WHO will publish an evidence-based global report on drowning prevention later this year.
"Drowning is a tragedy that cuts short so many promising young lives and breaks so many parents' hearts," said Kelly Henning, director of public health programs for 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."
Location: Bangladesh; International; New York City