29 November 2022 News release Geneva, Switzerland
Injuries and violence take the lives of some 12 000 people around the world each day. As reflected in a new World Health Organization report, Preventing injuries and violence: an overview, 3 of the top 5 causes of death among people aged 5–29 years are injury related, namely road traffic injuries, homicide and suicide.
In addition to those, injury related killers are drowning, falls, burns and poisoning, among others. Of the 4.4 million annual injury related deaths, roughly 1 in 3 of these deaths result from road traffic crashes, 1 in 6 from suicide, 1 in 9 from homicide and 1 in 61 from war and conflict.
“People living in poverty are significantly more likely to suffer an injury than the wealthy,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “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.”
Many effective and low-cost interventions are available. For example, in Spain, setting the default speed limit for cities at 30 kilometres per hour is improving road safety; in Viet Nam, providing swimming training is preventing drowning; and in the Philippines, legislation to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 years to 16, in a bid to protect minors from sexual violence, is bringing positive change. However, in most countries, political will and investment are lacking as measures are not in place in sufficient levels.
“Accelerated action is needed to avoid this unnecessary suffering of millions of families every year,” notes Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the Department for the Social Determinants of Health, WHO. “We know what needs to be done, and these effective measures must be brought to scale across countries and communities to save lives.”
The WHO report is being released during the 14th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, currently taking place 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 injuries and violence.
This report also highlighted the prevention measures and available WHO technical guidance that can support decisions for scaling up prevention efforts.
This brief advocacy document highlights the burden, risks and prevention of injuries and violence, which took the lives of 4.4 million people in 2019 and constitute 8% of all deaths. Among the injury-related causes of death include road traffic crashes, drowning, falls, burns, poisoning and violence against oneself or others. For people age 5-29 years, three of the top five causes of death are injury-related, including road traffic injuries, homicide, and suicide. Injuries and violence are not evenly distributed across or within countries – some people are more vulnerable than others depending on the conditions in which they are born, grow, work, live and age; in general, being young, male and of low socioeconomic status all increase the risk of injury. This document, aimed at public health professionals; injury prevention researchers, practitioners and advocates; and donors, draws attention to specific strategies based on sound scientific evidence that are effective and cost-effective at preventing injuries and violence; it is critical that these strategies are more widely implemented.