On Tuesday, 19 June 2018, at the 68th Session of the IMO Technical Cooperation Committee, held at IMO Headquarters in London, Captain Udo Helge Fox, Chairman of the IMRF, and Mohammed Drissi, IMRF Trustee, delivered a presentation to the plenary entitled “Working Together - Capacity Building in Maritime SAR”.

Captain Fox began by giving an overview of the global role of the IMRF in saving lives in the world’s waters. He said that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, about 400,000 people drown every year.

That is 40 people, every hour of every day, equivalent to 70% of the global death toll for malnutrition and 60% for that of malaria. The WHO also reports that Africa and Asia-Pacific account for almost 90% of world drowning deaths. Captain Fox described it as "a silent epidemic".

Mohammed Drissi, who is the IMRF Trustee with special responsibility for co-ordinating the IMRF's work in Africa, then described how, since 2012, the IMRF, with the IMO Technical Cooperation Division, has been helping key African states to develop a well-functioning search and rescue (SAR) coordination capability. See 'Slowing Africa's Silent Killer'.

This IMRF work complements IMO-funded initiatives, by working with Maritime Administrations and Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres to identify development needs and provide specialist programmes of training, knowledge-sharing and international networking.

Since 2014 the IMRF has run 12 Regional SAR Development Meetings, organised 23 African SAR Training Courses and trained 294 people across Africa. Outcomes include Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres established or improved; national SAR plans adopted; ratification of SAR Conventions; introduction of new SAR technologies; increased competence and confidence of the trainees applying “best practice” when tasked with On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) responsibilities; the development of operational checklists, as a tool for participants handling SAR incidents in their own organisations; and reductions in incident response times, saving more lives.

The IMRF has a full programme of activities planned in Africa for the next twelve months, including Regional SAR Development Meetings and training courses.