Implementing Research In Road Safety To Curb Fatalities

Injuries sustained from road crash has gained prominence in developing countries. The will to contain this menace receives little or few attention and investment from policy makers and governments with particular reference to implementation of safety measures.


Life saving measures such as wearing of self-belts and helmets, avoidance of over speeding and checking of speed limit at designated places are perhaps not well coordinated and enforced.


The sad aspect of this, is that these are well documented in policies and legislations in various developing countries backed by experiences shared by countries who have embarked on implementation of these measures effectively.

Injuries are a neglected epidemic in developing countries, causing more than five million deaths each year, roughly equal to the number of deaths from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The seminal Global burden of disease and risk factors study estimated that injuries accounted for more than 15% of all ill-health in the world in 1990 and forecast this to increase to 20% by 2020.

Alarming is the fact that more than 90% of injury deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where preventive efforts are often non-existent, and health-care systems are least prepared to meet the challenge.

As such, injuries clearly contribute to the vicious cycle of poverty and the economic and social costs have an impact on individuals, communities and societies. The socioeconomic impact of injury-related disability is magnified in low-income countries, where there are often poorly developed trauma care and rehabilitation systems and little or no social welfare infrastructure. Of all categories of injury, road traffic crashes have appropriately received the greatest attention.

Economic development in low-income countries is accompanied by an increase in the number of vehicles, with the associated rise in traffic-related crashes, injuries and deaths. The estimated annual cost of road traffic injuries is more than US$ 500 billion, which far exceeds the total global expenditures in developmental assistance.

For every death from a road traffic crash, there are many more hospitalizations, emergency department visits and injuries, often leading to permanent disability.

Despite the weight of evidence, the importance of preventing and treating injuries in low- and middle-income countries has yet to be embraced by the global public health community. Research is grossly underfunded and insufficient resources have been allocated for strengthening the delivery of medical services. Better treatment of injuries will help achieve three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, namely the reduction of child mortality, improving maternal health and promoting gender equality with respect to access to health-care services.

In spite of the fact that, implementation of research is worldwide problem, it is more severe in developing countries particularly in Africa to combat road crash. There is no better approach to aligning policies and programmes with research to fight against road crash. Interestingly, huge budgets are rather spent on post road crash treatment. Provided such investments are channelled towards strategies aimed at safeguarding people from road crash on roads, lots of lives, resources and financial savings will be made.

The Global status report on road safety 2015, reflecting information from 180 countries, indicates that worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths has plateaued at 1.25 million per year, with the highest road traffic fatality rates in low-income countries. In the last three years, 17 countries have aligned at least one of their laws with best practice on seat-belts, drink–driving, speed, motorcycle helmets or child restraints. While there has been progress towards improving road safety legislation and in making vehicles safer, the report shows that the pace of change is too slow. Urgent action is needed to achieve the ambitious target for road safety reflected in the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020. Made possible through funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, this report is the third in the series, and provides a snapshot of the road safety situation globally, highlighting the gaps and the measures needed to best drive progress.

Conferences such as the world conference on injury prevention and safety, a biennial event, cosponsored by the World Health Organisation plays an important role in promoting and facilitating inter sectoral liaison and collaboration by facilitating the exchange of information as well as experiences throughout the world, and developing the professional level of injury prevention practices. The upcoming one takes place in Tampere, Finland, on 18 – 21 September 2016. The main theme for the conference is “From research to implementation’’.

Injury prevention and safety promotion involves many disciplines and interest groups, who are active in diverse domains such as violence prevention, road traffic safety, work safety and home safety. Cross cutting communications between these sectors are still in an early stage of development, while there is much to learn from successes in one area and how other domains can benefit from these experiences.
It is therefore crucial to foster interaction between these sectors in order to create synergy between programmes and actions that contribute to injury prevention, says Secretary General, WimRogmans from EuroSafe.

Dr Adnan Hyder, a member and secretary of the international organisation committee of the world safety conferences as well as professor and director of the international injury research unit at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA, says a lot need to be done by low and middle income countries in injury prevention.

Challenges making this difficult include lack of injury prevention measures buy-in from stakeholders, ineffective interventions, under reporting or lack of reliable injury data and absence of pre-hospital care, he mentioned.

Etienne Krug, Chair of the IOC and Director of the WHO Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention says the conference will be held against the backdrop of the newly defined post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which are currently set to address related issues, including road safety and violence prevention.

“These issues are of great relevance to all countries, but in particular those of the developing world, which are actively seeking solutions to these challenges.

“the theme “From research to implementation”, Safety 2016 seeks to underscore the need to bridge violence and injury prevention research on the one hand and policy and practice on the other.
“In this regard, we encourage the participation not only of technical experts, but also of relevant policy-makers, practitioners and advocates, those who are in a position to translate science into practical and achievable action on the ground, ” he said.

Dr Anne Lounamaa, Chair of the National Organizing Committee and Head of Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland says Injuries – violence and unintentional – are a major burden on public health worldwide.

“While experts in injury prevention and safety promotion recognize the need for action, the state-of-the-art knowledge and practice from these fields are not consistently applied to policies and programmes in the field,” she stated.

Source; Samuel Hinneh

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