Road safety aricle in IFMSA's Medical Student Mag by Naren Nallapeta

Road safety aricle in IFMSA's Medical Student Mag by Naren Nallapeta

Recently, our South East Asia Coordinator in the CORE Group, Dr Naren Nallapeta wrote an excellent advocacy article on Safe and Sustainable Transport in the 30th Edition of the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IMFSA) magazine entitled MSI - Medical Student International. This magazine is sent out to the IMFSA's one million plus medical student network bringing further attention to the cause.


For more than 60 years, IFMSA has existed and been led by medical students worldwide. The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) was founded in 1951. It is the world’s oldest and largest independent organization representing associations of medical students internationally. It currently maintains 108 National Member Organizations from more than 100 countries across six continents with over 1,2 million students represented worldwide. IFMSA is recognized as a non-governmental organization within the United Nations’ system and the World Health Organization and as well, it works with the World Medical Association.

With Naren's permission, we publish his article here.

Safe and sustainable roads: The case for a sustainable development goal

I lost my daughter, Zenani when she was only 13. In a matter of seconds, her world and her future was destroyed. And with her, a huge part of my world was gone too. For the sake of all our children, for our world and the future we want, we must make sure we include road safety this time round. Zoleka Mandela

Safe mobility should be a right to all. Like access to education, drinking water and provision for health care, safe road transport must be a key foundation of modern society. Even today we see an enormous population, especially in the middle and low income countries with roads having no adequate footpath; car companies which do not comply with the United Nation’s basic crash test standards designs, Governments which fail to enforce speed limits, drink-driving, seat belt use or motorcycle helmet wearing.

Road traffic injuries are a global, man-made (and preventable) epidemic with a health burden on the scale of HIV/AIDS and Malaria. There is a significant and serious impact of road traffic injury on global mortality and disability which has been confirmed by 2 new studies – the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013 and the Global Burden of diseases(GBD) 2010. The reports suggest a staggering overall number of annual deaths on the world’s roads at almost 1.3 million deaths.

Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death worldwide for young people aged 15-29. According to the GBD study, road injury is the world’s leading cause of death for boys and men aged 10-29. Between the ages of 30-40 it is the second biggest killer of men overall, after, HIV/AIDS1.


The vast majority of casualties occur in middle and low income countries which are experiencing rapid motorisation. Around half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, who are often among the poorest members of society.

The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 is promoting cost effective solutions proven to reduce road casualties. Improving road design and vehicle safety; implementing motorcycle helmet and seat belt laws; and effective police enforcement have all succeeded in reducing death and injury in low, middle and high income countries alike. But many governments and international agencies must do more to prioritise road safety and integrate it into wider sustainable development agendas.Furthermore there is very limited international funding or policy support to catalyse national action plans and to help build capacity. Such catalytic international support is urgently needed.

In his recent report on the post-2015 development agenda, ‘A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations’ development agenda beyond 2015’, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended that reducing the burden of road traffic injuries should be one of the targets in a new health goal.

Few initiatives taken as a part of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety by the world associations to reduce the burden of road traffic accidents:

  • The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety has raised awareness of road injury to an unprecedented level. With leadership from the Russian Federation, more than 100 Governments committed at the UN to support the goal of the Decade of Action: to stabilize and reduce global road fatalities by 20201. Eighty-eight countries, with a total population of almost 1.4 billion, reduced the number of deaths of their roads in the four years to 2010.
  • IFMSA also declared in AM2012 to recognize the period 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Global Road Safety and also released a policy regarding the same.

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  1. The five pillars of the global plan are: Road Safety Management strengthening institutional and operational capacity to achieve national road safety objectives; supporting stronger governance and policing.
  2. Safe roads and mobility: improving the planning, design, construction and operation of road networks to ensure safety for all users; encouraging investment in sustainable modes of transport.
  3. Safer vehicles: promoting crashworthiness and empowering consumers with safety information; accelerating introduction and use.
  4. Safe road users: putting vulnerable road users, like pedestrians and cyclists, first in policy; promoting use of seat belts and crash helmets; tackling drink driving; setting and enforcing effective speed limits; improving driver training.
  5. Post-crash response: improving emergency response and trauma care; supporting rehabilitation and care of road injury victims; providing advice, support and legal redress for victims and their families; encouraging third party insurance schemes to finance rehabilitation.

The Bloomberg Global Road Safety Program: In 2009 Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $125 million, five year programme to support road safety in 10 focus countries: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam. Working with the Governments of these countries, and with partners including the Association for Safe International Road Safety (ASIRT), EMBARO, the Global Road Safety Partnership, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility and the World Health Organization, the Bloomberg Philantropies, the family Foundation of New York Michael Bloomberg has succeeded in demonstration the potential of road safety investment.

Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and the Clinton Global Initiative: The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) established by the former US President Bill Clinton, brings together philanthropies, Governments, companies and development and public health experts to collaborate on major social and health issues through, ‘Commitments’. The FIA Foundation, a UK-based philanthropy, has made three 10 year CGI Commitments totaling €30 million. The FIA Foundation’s commitments pledge support for key initiatives in support of the Decade of Action Global Plan.


A plague on the YOUNG: The global burden of road traffic accidents

New studies confirm that young people face their greatest risk of death or disability when travelling on roads and streets.

Boys and young men are most at risk on the world’s roads

Young men are most at risk. According to the GBD study, road injury is the world’s leading cause of death for boys and men aged 10-29. Between the ages of 30-40 it is the second biggest killer of men overall, after HIV/AIDS. For women, road injury is between third (during teenage years) and fifth leading cause of death consistently from the age of 5 to 40. This is a young person’s plague.
Road injury is also the leading cause of DALYS or young people aged 15-24, second leading cause (behind HIV/AIDS) for those aged 25-35, and the leading cause for men until age 29.

A Post-2015 Agenda for Mobility: Safe and sustainable road transport, the ‘Safe System’ speed management at its heart, must be a post-2015 priority.

The current debate on a future framework for sustainable development provides an opportunity to integrate safe and sustainable transport within the next set of development goals, and to establish new partnerships for safe, healthy and clean transport and urban development strategies, with road safety and effective speed management at their heart, which put people first.

At the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, world leaders agreed to begin a process of designing new ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ to replace or renew the Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015. For the first time at a UN ‘Earth Summit’, road safety and sustainable transportation were recognised in the communique as being an important part of the overall agenda to deliver social equity, health and urban development.

Road safety must be recognized and included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals framework. This should include reducing road traffic deaths globally by 50% from 2010 levels by 2030. This would be consistent with the current UN Decade of Action for Road Safety objective, endorsed by more than a hundred governments in UN General Assembly Resolution 64/255, to ‘stabilise and reduce’ road deaths by 2020.

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Fatalities target:
 By 2030, reducing the number of people killed on the world’s roads to less than 620,000 per year from the 2010 baseline of 1.24 million per year.

Fatality targets by country income cluster (the Results Framework also includes injury and economic targets by income level). Reduce road traffic fatality rates by 2030 to:

  • < 4 per 100,000 population in high-income countries (baseline of 8.7 in 2010 )
  • < 7 per 100,000 population in middle-income countries (baseline of 20.1 in 2010)
  • < 12 per 100,000 population in low-income countries (baseline of 18.3 in 2010)

Serious Injuries target:
By 2030, reduce the number of people seriously injured on the world’s roads to less than 6,200,000 per year from the 2010 baseline of 12.4 million per year.

Economic Impact target:
By 2030, reduce the global economic impact of road crashes to less than 1.5% of GDP per year from the current 3% of GDP per year.

In conclusion I encourage the Youth of IFMSA and all the member nations to support safe roads for all as a part of the journey towards “Sustainable Development for the New Era”. Like education and healthcare, safe roads should be a right to all.

You can read Naren's article on page 23 of MSI30 here.




Meet Naren Nallapeta - Coorindator of South East Asia
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