Call for global focus on injury prevention

02 May 2013


Injuries are responsible for 1 in 10 deaths worldwide, more than the number of deaths from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. And the numbers are expected to increase over the next 20 years.

In a paper published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers say that if these projections are to be thwarted, efforts aimed at prevention must become a priority – on the global health agenda and in low and middle income countries.

"Increasing motorization and economic development has led to a rise in injuries in low and middle income countries,and immediate action is called for", says lead author Professor Robyn Norton, Co-Director at the George Centre for Healthcare Innovation.

"The number of injury-related deaths and disability is alarming, yet awareness of this global health issue is lacking", Professor Norton said. "The prevention of injuries, which should be the first priority, is achievable, as evidenced by a 50% drop in deaths from road traffic injuries in high income countries like Australia, Canada and the United States",she said. "There is a significant body of evidence demonstrating effective strategies to mitigate the risks of injuries. For example, evidence shows that the healthcare sector, especially primary care, has an important role to play in the prevention of injuries to children and falls among the elderly".

The success of many other prevention strategies will, however, require a multi-sectoral and legislative approach to injury prevention, such as legislation requiring the installation of fire alarms or fencing around pools.

While prevention of injuries must be a priority, improvements in pre-hospital and in-hospital care should also be a focus of attention, as well as strategies aimed at improving rehabilitation services, especially in low and middle-income countries.

"The growing burden of injuries can be addressed when we adopt, worldwide, those prevention and management strategies that are known to be effective, and if we continue to develop new innovative and cost-effective approaches", she said.

Photo by Oxyman via Wikimedia Commons