Every day violence and injuries take the lives of more than 14 000 people. Over 1,100 experts gathered in Tampere, Finland for Safety 2016, the 12th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, are sharing the latest evidence and experiences from prevention programmes which have demonstrated dramatic success in saving lives.
Injuries caused by violence, road traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and poisoning, among others, kill more than 5 million people every year, accounting for 9% of the world’s deaths. These and other injury-related causes are among the many addressed by Safety 2016 under the theme “From research to implementation”.
Globally, of injury-related deaths, 24% are due to road traffic crashes; 16% from suicide; 14% from falls; 10% from homicide; and 7% from drowning. Around 2% of injury-related deaths result from war and conflict.
Violence and injuries affect all age groups, but have a particular impact on young people and those in their prime working years. For people 15-29 years of age, three injury-related causes are among the top five causes of death: road traffic injuries (1st), suicide (2nd) and homicide (4th).
Beyond deaths tens of millions of people suffer injuries that lead to hospitalization, emergency department visits, and treatment by general practitioners. Many are left with temporary or permanent disabilities; violence and injuries are responsible for an estimated 6% of all years lived with disability.
“Safety 2016 provides an opportunity for the world’s leading violence and injury prevention researchers, practitioners and advocates to discuss and share successful strategies which if scaled up across countries could do much to prevent violence and injuries and save lives.”
Preventing violence and injuries will further attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through which world leaders have recognized injuries as urgent priorities for action. A number of SDG targets relate specifically to violence and injuries, including targets 3.6 to cut road traffic deaths by 50% by 2020; target 5.2 to end violence against women and girls; target 11.2 to provide safe and sustainable transport; and target 16.2 to end violence against children.
Effective strategies to prevent violence and injuries include setting and enforcing laws on a range of issues from speeding and smoke detectors to hot water tap temperatures and window guards, among others; reducing the availability and harmful use of alcohol; limiting access to firearms, knives, pesticides and certain medications; implementing vehicle and safety equipment standards; installing barriers controlling access to water, including wells and swimming pools; and improving emergency trauma care. These are all strategies where both national and local government officials from across multiple sectors can play a role.