Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity of the billionaire businessman and former mayor, is partnering with the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to tackle the problem. The initiative will fund community daycare and locally manufactured playpens. It will monitor 80,000 children over a two-year period and evaluate the effectiveness of those approaches.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies Drowning Prevention Project will initially focus on Bangladesh, where drowning is the leading cause of death among children. Every year in Bangladesh, about 12,000 children drown, the equivalent of 32 deaths every day, the foundation said in a statement.
It cites studies that show most of the drownings occur in small bodies of water, close to the children’s homes.
“Drowning is a tragedy that cuts short so many promising young lives and breaks so many parents’ hearts,” said Dr. Kelly Henning, who leads public health programs at 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.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on public health, the environment, education, government innovation and the arts. The foundation says it distributed $452 million in 2013.