London - 1 March 2016
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of “The UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-2026” (please download below).
The Strategy is the culmination of many years work by the National Water Safety Forum (NWFS), with IMRF members well represented on this group. The collaboration of all stakeholders is essential if the UK is to succeed in reducing fatalities in and around the water. In the UK about 400 people accidently drown every year, with a further 200 people committing suicide in the water.
The Minister of State, Department of Transport, Robert Goodwill MP identifies that “The strategy will look to establish common targets stakeholders can work towards, adopting a risk based approach to prevention activities and a better understanding of water related self-harm so we can aim towards a future without drowning.”
At the launch World Health Organisation (WHO) representative David Meddings commended the work done by all involved to produce the strategy. Last year the WHO Global Report on Drowning (new window) was released highlighting the estimated 372,000 people drowning every year. One of the aims of the report was to galvanize attention and action to this issue by highlighting how collaboration across sectors can save lives. Mr Meddings said this was an excellent example of the type on strategy that can bring all parties together with a common focus and that the UK drowning Prevention Strategy could be a template other countries could use to develop their own collaborative, structured approach to preventing drowning.
National Water Safety Forum Chair, George Rawlinson says “We now have the knowledge and opportunity to reach people at risk and change behaviour. The NWSF believes that if we work together, we can reduce drowning fatalities (in the UK) by 50% by 2026.”
In this strategy is a further reinforcement for us all involved in maritime SAR. We do what we do for the safety of the person in the water. The challenge is bigger than anyone organisation so greater success comes from cooperation and collaboration, locally, nationally and internationally. Thanks George and the team on the NWSF for this timely reminder and also congratulations on the work being done to keep people safe on and in the UK waters.