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Building A Global platform To Reduce Drowning  

Building a Global Platform to Reduce Drowning

The International Life Saving Federation and organisers of the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011 set some significant targets in terms of leveraging participation and interest in the event to initiate, influence and promote action to save lives.

It is vital that the global drowning burden and all those impacted have advocates, and that these advocates use the best available evidence to clarify the burden and promote meaningful, sustainable and achievable action to reduce this burden.

It is thought that drowning may claim as many as one million lives every year and impacts millions more in communities across the world. We are committed to reducing the global drowning burden through active prevention strategies customised to fit the specific needs of different countries and cultures.

Some of the targets set and achieved prior to the conference included:

  • Supporting the participation of low-and-middle income based research, policy and practice professionals from Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Middle East.
  • Funding targeted child drowning research projects in Bangladesh
  • Establishing a SwimSafe demonstration project site in Danang, Vietnam.
  • Facilitating and participating in a range of regional workshops in drowning prevention.

Perhaps the most ambitious target was to use the conference to initiate and build a global strategy to reduce drowning. Of course this is a long term project, but we are committed to making the most of this opportunity to capture the science, the expertise, and the commitments of those who attended the conference.

The first challenge was to create an insightful, meaningful and strategic conference statement that could be built and owned by the 400 conference participants. This statement is a key building block of a global strategy to reduce drowning. In due course, it is anticipated that the global strategy to reduce drowning, with the statement as its base,will be used by the International Life Saving Federation and drowning prevention partners across the globe to inform country, regional and global strategies to reduce drowning.

The process was set down to occur in four broad stages:Pre-conference review and drafting of the statement.Conference presentations, debate and discussion at World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011.Review and in principle endorsement by ILS Board,Commissioners and partner organisations.Post-conference review, refinement and publishing.

We were delighted with the volume and quality of feedback provided before and during the conference. To enable feedback, we broke the statement into two steps: Framing the Problem; and Framing The Response.The intent was to enable all conference participants to reach an agreed set of principles which form the core issue of drowning globally, before moving into tangible solutions.

The focus of the effort to date is primarily on the 96% of deaths which occur in low-and-middle-income countries as this is the area of greatest need. This doesn’t mean to diminish those issues impacting drowning in high-income contexts, and our challenge is to develop a platform that respects the needs of all.

Please remember that we are all committed to reducing drowning. The intent of the statement is global and overarching in nature. It may not be possible to incorporate all interests and needs at this level, but it is hoped that as we move towards more coordinated and collaborative efforts to reduce drowning the appropriate level of detail will be completed.

This statement needs to resonate with all stakeholders including Governments, donors, non-government organisations, and professionals in the areas of research,policy and practice. In time it may be adjusted for a more general community-based audience.

Post conference from consultation and feedback received the statement/platform is being reviewed, refined and will be published shortly. For further information or advice please contact

Justin Scarr
Conference Convener
ILS Drowning Prevention Commissioner 




















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Conference Ambassador

B. Chris Brewster
President America's Region
International Life Saving Federation
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