Malaysians to attend world conference to tackle this problem

2 March 2011

The Life Saving Society Malaysia today announced seven delegates will be attending the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in May in Danang, Vietnam, to address the exceedingly high number of child drowning deaths across Asia – including Malaysia.

The World Conference on Drowning Prevention is held every four years by the International Life Saving Federation and hosted by member organisations. This year’s conference, hosted by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia and The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC), will bring together over 400 experts from around the globe to present and discuss the latest research and thinking on child drowning interventions, emergency response, lifeguarding, swimming instruction, disaster and climate change.

Based on research conducted by The Alliance for Safe Children and UNICEF, it is estimated that as many as 350,000 children drown in Asia every year, nearly 1,000 every day. Furthermore, drowning is now known to be the leading cause of death for children between one and four years of age in many Asian countries. The Royal Life Saving Society – Australia specifically chose to hold the conference in Vietnam, a country suffering from one of the highest drowning rates, to bring worldwide attention to this issue.

The recent drowning deaths in Malaysia, including the drowning of a toddler in a basin of water, three boys who were swimming in a river, a little child who drowned in a condominium pool when the mother was not around and five adults who drowned in the flood-ravaged south, show that drowning is indiscriminate and that greater attention needs to be given to this issue.

The Malaysian delegates will attend the conference courtesy of the Australia–Malaysia Institute (AMI). The AMI is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, created to strengthen people and institutional links between the two countries and to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation.

“We are very grateful for the financial support given to us by the Australia–Malaysia Institute to enable seven Malaysian life saving practitioners to attend this very important conference,” said Mr Chan Kwai Fong, Vice President of Life Saving Society Malaysia. “We also appreciate the keen support of the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, and in particular that of Chief Operating Officer Mr Justin Scarr, for securing this scholarship for the Life Saving Society Malaysia,” he said.

The delegates representing Malaysia are the Deputy President of the Life Saving Society Malaysia, Dr. Zaid Chelvaraj, who will be leading the Malaysian delegation. He will be assisted by Chan Kwai Fong. The other members of the delegation are Geh Thuan Tek, Lim Kok Wey, Ooi Win Juat, Lee Soon Keong and Chan Ngee Mun, who is a university student and the only female in the delegation.

“It is the hope of the Malaysian life saving movement that our delegates to the World Conference on Drowning Prevention will gather much knowledge and know-how so that we can educate the Malaysian population on the need for precautionary measures to reduce the incidence of drowning in Malaysia,” Mr Chan said.

Two members of Life Saving Society Malaysia, including Mr Chan, attended a regional child drowning workshop in Bangladesh in December 2010. The workshop addressed the epidemic of drowning in Asia and established the framework for a drowning prevention strategy.

“We hope that the World Conference on Drowning Prevention will extend the knowledge gained at the child drowning workshop in Bangladesh and that some of the key findings on child drowning can be adopted at the conference,” Mr Chan said.

For more information, contact:

Chan Kwai Fong
Vice President Life Saving Society Malaysia
HP: 0125712183