Injuries and violence take the lives of around 12,000 people around the world every day. As reflected in a new report from the World Health Organization, Injury and violence prevention: an overview3 of the 5 leading causes of death among people aged 5 to 29 are related to injuries, namely road traffic injuries, murders and suicides.
Along with these, the injury-related killers are drowning, falls, burns, and poisoning, among others. Of the 4.4 million annual injury-related deaths, approximately 1 in 3 of those deaths are the result of traffic accidents, 1 in 6 suicides, 1 in 9 homicides, and 1 in 61 due to war and conflict.
“People living in poverty are significantly more likely to suffer injuries than the rich,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “The health sector has a major role to play in addressing these health disparities and in preventing injury and violence, through data collection, policy development, service delivery and programming for prevention and care, capacity building, and advocacy for greater attention to underserved communities.”
Many effective and inexpensive interventions are available. For example, in Spain, setting the default speed limit for cities at 30 kilometers per hour improves road safety; in Vietnam, providing swimming training prevents drowning; and in the Philippines legislation on raising the age of consent to sexual intercourse from 12 to 16 years, in an attempt to protect minors from sexual violence, brings positive changes. However, political will and investment are lacking in most countries because the measures are not established at a sufficient level.
“Accelerated action is needed to avoid this unnecessary suffering for millions of families every year,” notes Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health, WHO. “We know what needs to be done, and these effective measures must be extended to all countries and communities to save lives.”
The WHO report will be published on the 14thth World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, currently held in Adelaide, Australia. This event provides an opportunity for the world’s leading injury and violence prevention researchers and practitioners to continue to advocate for evidence-based measures to prevent injury and violence.
This report also highlighted prevention measures and available technical guidance from the World Health Organization that can support decisions to increase prevention efforts.
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