Brian's Column: The voices of youth and survivors at African symposium

Brian's Column: The voices of youth and survivors at African symposium

Did you think we had all unanimously retired from bringing you the voices of youth and road safety from Africa? Probably…but no. There has been a lot going on! You may have read about our successful participation in delivering of the Alliance Advocates African region training in Nairobi, Kenya but you haven’t read about the East African Injury Symposium that took place in Kampala, Uganda yet right?

Our Anglophone Africa Region Coordinator Brian Mwebaze Kanaahe, as always brings us to speed on what took place.

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The East African Injury Symposium that appeared as #InjurySymposium2018 on social media platforms was organized by The Johns Hopkins University-Makerere University Chronic Consequences of Trauma, Injuries and Disability in Uganda (Chronic-TRIAD) Program in March 2018 in Kampala, Uganda. The goal was to bring together leading researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and activists working in the field of injury prevention in East Africa to share their research and experience and discuss solutions to the growing burden of injuries in the region.


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Brian attends the East African Injury Symposium

Participation of young people and young people who are survivors of road traffic crashes formed a key talking point of the summit. Brenda Areto, a young person, now limited to movement on a wheel chair provided by the Spinal Association of Uganda was not any different from us. She loved sports, walked long distances to school and had big dreams. She narrated her ordeal how on that fateful day, she got involved in a road traffic crash. The following lines she dropped during the symposium touched everyone’s bone marrow and will always be fresh in my mind.

eais"I was knocked from behind in 2010 while on a boda (Motocycle) by a car, I sustained paralysis in lower body. I was 2nd year student at Makerere University

"Drunk first responders with no training in EMS responded to me . There was no anaethesist in hospital for a week"

"Uganda has one Injury spinal unit in Mulago. No rehabilitation centre to reduce dependency on anyone eg wheel chairs, skill development, economically challenging making you a liability"

“We need to find ways of engaging and working with everyone particulalry young road users to keep everybody safe and I mean everybody on the road”

She dismissed the common notion of numbers of road fatalities…

“Every number counts. We’re talking about someone’s wife, child, husband, friend”

The Road Traffic and Injury Research Network had a funny way of announcing the presence of Jean Todt “We interrupt normal tweeting to introduce @JeanTodt UN Special Envoy for #RoadSafety who just dropped in #InjurySymposium2018 b4 visiting @KagutaMuseveni !”

Jean Todt delivered a support speech calling for participation of all stakeholders, funding, safe systems approach and went to meet @KagutaMuseveni :-That’s the President of Uganda where he presented Road Safety Performance Review Report that focused on Uganda’s Road Safety Management, Vehycles, Infrastructure, Road User Behaviour and Post Crash Care.


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The UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt meets with dignitaries at the symposium.


Overall, it was a practical, participatory summit that drew experiences from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. The in school young people who participated vowed to organize a zebra crossing painting session, speed bumps and connecting with the Uganda Red Cross Society for continuous support. They have already done the latter: a road safety session, and a road safety club launched. We look forward to more energy, more actions

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