“The health sector has a major role in addressing these health inequities and in preventing injuries and violence, through collecting data, developing policies, providing services and programming for prevention and care, building capacities, and advocating for greater attention to underserved communities”.
In Preventing injuries and violence: an overview, WHO reveals that road traffic injuries, homicide and suicide, are three of the top five causes of death among people aged five to 29.
Other injury-related killers include drowning, falls, burns and poisoning.
Of the 4.4 million injury-related deaths annually, the report shows that roughly one in three is a result of road traffic crashes, one in six a suicide, one in nine due to homicide and one in 61, from war and conflict.
Putting up guard rails
But these can be mitigated with many available effective and low-cost interventions.
For example, in Spain, setting the default speed limit for cities at 30 kilometres per hour, is improving road safety. In Viet Nam, providing more swimming training to communities is helping to cut down rates of death by drowning.
Meanwhile, in a bid to protect minors from sexual violence in the Philippines, legislation to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16, has already made a positive difference.
Political will needed
However, most countries lack or have insufficient measures in place to protect lives, which requires political will and investment.
“Accelerated action is needed to avoid this unnecessary suffering of millions of families every year”, noted Etienne Krug, WHO’s Director of the Department for the Social Determinants of Health.
“We know what needs to be done, and these effective measures must be brought to scale across countries and communities to save lives”.
Advocating for change
The WHO report was being released during the 14th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, currently taking place in Adelaide, Australia.
The 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 injuries and violence.
The report also highlights prevention measures and available WHO technical guidance that can support decisions for scaling up prevention efforts.